A picture of white towels hanging in a bathroom
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How to practise cold-water therapy at home

Plunge social media editor, Hannah Wild, takes on five days of cold showers to see just how accessible, and effective at-home cold-water therapy really is

If diving headfirst into an open body of water doesn’t appeal to you, cold showers might just be your new best friend. Given its ability to combat stress, strengthen your immune system and keep you alert, it’s no wonder cold-water therapy is the latest wellness trend popularised across the globe. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Harry Styles and Lizzo are all taking the plunge; embracing the wellness regime’s natural benefits.

According to Michael Mosley, host of the podcast ‘Just One Thing’, regular cold-water swimming can improve your mood and cardiovascular health, benefitting the body and mind. While cold-water therapy is frequently associated with outdoor swimming, not everyone has access to a safe and accessible body of water. Likewise, a £100 Lumi Pod may be slightly out of your monthly budget – and we don’t want you falling at the first hurdle. This is where cold showers come in. 

Regular cold-water swimming can improve your mood and cardiovascular health, benefitting the body and mind

Cold showers are an excellent way to begin your cold-water therapy journey, being a gentle form of exposure therapy. Research investigating the benefits of cold showers found that water temperatures of 20C can have an antidepressant effect on the body, while one study claims that people taking cold showers could see a 30% reduction in the number of sick days taken at work. Wim Hof, also known as ‘Iceman’, claims that since implementing cold showers into his morning routine his happiness, mental health and immune system have all improved. 

With this in mind, I decided to test whether I could experience the benefits of cold water therapy at home; with five days of cold showers. As advised by Mosley in his podcast episode, ‘Cold Showers’, I’ll be starting with a 10-second blast at the end of my usual shower, increasing this in small increments, until I’m able to withstand a 30-second cold shower.

Hopefully this experience will uncover the benefits and challenges of cold water therapy, revealing just how therapeutic this wellness regime can be.

Day 1

This morning, I woke up both excited and nervous for the next five days. After procrastinating in the shower for 10 minutes I took a deep breath, turned the temperature dial round to ‘1’, and began counting down in my head. After four seconds the water reached its climax and I gasped. My heartbeat began to increase with every droplet. 10 seconds wasn’t long enough for my body to enter full on fight-or-flight mode, however it was long enough to shock me. Although, stepping out of the shower I was surprised at how alert and refreshed I felt, albeit, slightly jittery.

Day 2

I was incredibly tired yesterday, even more than usual. Despite the cold-water blast initially waking me up, it didn’t seem to last after the initial shock eased. Today was slightly less brutal, being aware of what was coming. I’m struggling to see how anyone could actually enjoy this, but I’m hoping that with each passing day I’ll adapt. Who knows? Maybe by day five I’ll be doing it without digging my nails into my skin.

Days 3 and 4

Every remotely positive thing I said about this experience? I take it back. I decided that instead of turning the temperature dial to ‘1’, I would turn the second dial to ‘cold’. Big mistake. From the moment I turned the dial I experienced every stress response Mosley warned me about. The water instantly took my breath away and I was left panting, gripping onto myself in horror. My heart was pounding and I couldn’t slow it down. I tried to focus on my breathing but it was no use. After 10 measly seconds I hastily switched the water off. Never again.

Day 5

I’ve recovered. After yesterday’s setback I decided to push myself by fully submerging my head under the water. Having had a restless night’s sleep I desperately needed something to wake me up, and this did the trick. Despite my heart feeling like it was going to pound out of my chest, I kept going. As the water trickled down my face all I could think about was the freezing sensation, losing sense of anything else. I managed 30 seconds before switching the dial back to its rightful position (‘hot’), and gleefully went about my day with a sense of achievement. 


If you’re looking to begin your cold-water therapy journey; this is a great way to start. It’s free, easy to implement into your daily routine, and doesn’t require any equipment (unless you fancy wearing a wetsuit). 

I would admit, I struggled to see the long-term impacts. Despite initially feeling jittery and awake, by 3pm I experienced what felt like a caffeine crash. But if what you’re looking for is a convenient, natural, and instant remedy for tiredness – this is it. Along with the likes of Harry Styles and Lizzo, you might just find me turning the shower dial more often.