Cold exposure: 'Convincing yourself that you're not going to die.'

Jumping into frigid lakes. In April. The water couldn't have been warmer than 50 degrees.

I have a habit of making things more difficult than they have to be. Taking a shower is a good example. It's easy to do with hot water. Too easy, apparently. 

I've been experimenting with cold exposure lately. My interest in the health benefits of cold exposure was sparked by Wim Hoff and Dr. Rhonda Patrick. Patrick has presented a litany of research on the health benefits. She's an authoritative voice, so I have no doubt that her findings, and the findings of others that she presents, are sound. But even if none of the research holds up, I'll continue with cold exposure.

As my friend, also a practitioner, says: "The hardest part is convincing yourself that you're not going to die." It's an exercise in mental strength every morning when I spin that shower dial as far as it will go to the right. And the mood boost that comes afterward -- whether it's neuro-chemical or just satisfaction from another small victory -- is inconsequential.

On Saturday, we got our first taste of the balmy weather to come, with temperatures hovering in the low 60s. The weekend prior, we'd received a dusting of snow. At the end of a hike, I dove into an icy lake and stayed in for a few minutes. After the initial shock, numbness set in and I was aware of, if not indifferent to, the cold. I was present with it. I knew I wasn't going to die. Not if I got out and dried off in the near future.

The shower no longer feels so cold to me. And other difficulties, regardless of scale, seem smaller.