365 days at 36.5 degrees started April 23, 2020, and I have not missed a day of cold exposure to date. I started this venture because I wanted to track the positive effects of cold exposure I knew existed from my training as a Wim Hof Method instructor, but I wanted to do it with an intense focus on how it positively affected me on a personal level. I started this venture the day after my son’s “birthday party”.
It was the start of full COVID hysteria and everyone was afraid to look at each other. So, we had my son’s seventh birthday party in our driveway, with his grandparents socially distanced. No friends of my son to celebrate with him. I don’t know how else to say it, I was angry. I was angry at a lot of things which are not pertinent to this message. And because I recognized my anger and realized that the things that were making me angry were not going to be going away any time soon, I knew I needed a tool to cope in a positive way with the circumstances that were totally out of my control. Enter 365 days at 36.5 degrees.
A few things have happened during this journey. For one, my entire family was hit with COVID. Predictably, we all came through it just fine. I say predictably because as a family we practice breathing and cold exposure regularly. We also take care to eat right and exercise regularly. So, we knew we had exercised our immune systems and were not overly concerned about contracting the virus. Our lack of fear was validated by our response to the virus.
But on a more practical level, the cold let me reset myself on a daily basis with focused intention. Our stressors are our stressors and we do not waste time and energy comparing who has it worse than who. Sometimes my stress is work related. So, if I was feeling stressed before a business call, I’d jump into the ice bath or cold shower to refocus my energy. It worked every time.
If I had a long work day and found myself a little out of sorts before I left my home office and went down stairs to join my family, I took an ice bath or cold shower to reset my energy and intention so I could bring my best self to my family. It worked every time.
If I was feeling a little jumpy or stressed before bed, I would jump into an ice bath or cold shower to reset myself so I could get a good night’s rest. It worked every time.
There were times I was feeling stressed and did not jump into an ice bath to reset. Guess what? In those instances I remained stressed and did not bring my best self to bear, until I relented and got into an ice bath or cold shower.
So, eight months in, my specific purpose for taking (at least one, sometimes two) ice baths is clear: It allows me to flush my stress and refocus how I want to present myself to the world. No medication, no money, no frills, just cold and intention.
The things that are happening these days that are out of my control, but still angering me, do not have a grip on me. It is not easy. The stress is real. But because of 365 at 36.5 degrees, I get to decide how I face it.
More to follow.
Errol Doebler is the founder of Leader 193, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Leader 193 to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Errol provides executive coaching, keynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.