I have been noticing in my first month living in Liberia, Costa Rica, that the people here look good. They have soft skin, they age slowly, and they seem genuinely happy. Maybe it’s the year-round summer weather, or maybe it’s the slower-paced lifestyle. It could be the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, or the fact that people walk or bike more than drive. I imagine it’s a combination of all these things, but there’s another factor to consider that I am not a fan of: cold showers.
Most people in Guanacaste do not have a ducha (hot-water shower), and maybe they don’t need it since the weather is warm and they’ve grown up without it, but I do. Hot showers are a luxury I’d rather not live without. They are so comforting and delightful! But Liberians don’t feel clean if they don’t wash with cold water, and they boast about the benefits of cold-water showers. They smile smugly when they point out how their counterparts in San Jose, who have duchas, look old and haggard.
Honestly, I didn’t realize there were benefits to this torture, but knowing about them makes me squeal a little less when I duck under the cold water (after remembering that it’s NOT going to warm up, no matter how long I stand there waiting for it to). Authors Brett and Kate McKay, in their article, The James Bond Shower: A Shot of Cold Water for Health and Vitality (http://artofmanliness.com), cite six benefits of cold showers:
- Improves circulation, giving a healthier and younger look;
- Relieves depression, stimulating the “blue spot” where anti-depressant chemicals are released in the brain;
- Keeps skin and hair healthy – cold water closes up cuticles and pores, while hot water dries out skin and hair;
- Strengthens immunity by increasing white blood cells;
- Increases testosterone and fertility in men (yikes: no comment);
- Increases energy and well-being – cold water possibly even reduces stress.
So there you have it: cold showers are good for you. Go figure.
Maybe some day a genius will put it in pill form for those of you in cold climates. As for me, I can only hope that within time I’ll feel the same as Liberians do, relishing every moment under the glorious invigorating stream of coldness.