In the first half of the year, it seemed that cold therapy was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. I feel like I’m always coming across someone promoting an ice bath, a cold shower or breathwork to help manage stress or reduce anxiety. Maybe it was big tech targeting me based on my interests, but I digress.
After a yearlong hiatus and with a stressful move on the horizon, I dove back into the Wim Hof Method earlier this summer, kicking off my second 20-day cold shower challenge. This time, instead of starting at 30 seconds and working my way up to two minutes, I opted for a more intermediate means of immersion. This challenge involves a slower increase in time, but the starting point is higher, working from one minute up to two. To put it plainly: It was going to be hard.
While I’m now familiar with the mental requirements of the challenge, it was tough to get myself to crank that temperature knob all the way to the cold end for a whopping 75 seconds to end my typically hot shower. The five days I spent at the initial time increment were slow, but I was proud of myself at the end of the week when I got my Shower Rookie badge, something only 14% of Wim Hof practitioners earn. And I reaped the benefits of week one almost immediately: I felt calmer, loved the new morning routine and approached the challenges in my day head-on instead of overthinking things.
I took two days off as recommended, and once I realized I was upping my time, I considered putting it off another day. But one of Wim’s cornerstones is discipline, so I relied more on the pre-shower breathwork to set the tone for the 90-second exposure. The five days seemed to drag, but before I knew it, I’d earned my Shower Apprentice badge, which just 9% have achieved.
At this point, I was feeling more confident in several areas of my life. The breathwork once again took me to a fuzzy, euphoric wonderland, and the showers helped train my body to deal with everyday stressors. After another two days off, I valiantly started my third week. The mental block I experienced in week two was the barrier I needed to break through to breeze through week three’s 105 seconds.
The challenge had become part of my routine, and I was grateful for the stability I allowed myself to establish. Having this as part of my day to focus inward set me up for success to be a happier, more authentic version of myself. My proudest moment of the challenge thus far was earning my Shower Master badge — something a mere 5% of the Wim Hof community can claim.
Week four at two minutes of the cold shower didn’t yield many new results, save for feeling more accomplished and confident. Throughout the challenge, my breathwork stayed consistent and was averaging at about 2:30 of retention time. It seemed a bit harder this time around to increase that, and I blame the variables going on in my life that were floating around my mind and distracting me from the task at hand.
Once I earned my Shower Guru badge (something only 3% of Wim Hofers have achieved!), I considered immersing myself in more of the community to get deeper into Wim’s practices. Having now successfully completed the intermediate level of this challenge, I know that next time I’ll be well-prepared to take on the expert level and continue to build on what I’ve learned. I don’t plan to take a year off again, but I know that the Wim Hof Method is one of the greatest tools I have to bring some stability and calm to my life. I still stan!