posted on February 24, 2022
Stress is a natural part of life. As humans we are designed to handle acute stress in our lives. We have a physiological process known as ‘Flight or Fight.’ When we feel overwhelmed or in danger, our bodies release hormones that increase our heart rate, slow down digestion, and cause rapid breathing. However, if we experience this process every day for weeks, months, or even years, it can cause harm to the body.
We all know that one person that seems stress free. Always happy, always healthy and always seems to have endless energy. You ask yourself, “How do they do it?” The answer is simple. The difference between people who feel the pressure of stress and those who don’t, is how they manage it.
There are many different methods to manage stress. Meditation, yoga, exercise, walking, writing, reading, I know you’ve heard of all these before. Today, I am going to discuss a method that I personally use to manage my stress. The Wim Hof Method.
Disclaimer: This method is not for everyone and it is always best to consult a doctor before trying it yourself.
Before I list the steps of the method I believe a little background is in order. The Wim Hof Method was started by a Dutch extreme athlete named Wim Hof or more widely known as ‘The Iceman.’ With an insane resume of cold exposure world records including: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in just his shorts, Standing in a container while covered in ice for 112 minutes, and running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle, in his bare feet. In order to accomplish these incredulous acts, he created a method to control his breathing, heart rate, and blood circulation. His motto is ‘what I am capable of, everybody can learn.’ By sharing his method with others through videos, talks, and books he has created a revolution across the globe.
The method is based around three pillars: Breathing, Cold Exposure, and Commitment.
The breathing pillar consists of a set of breathing exercises designed to increase oxygen levels, reduce stress, and provide more energy. For the exercise find a comfortable upright seated position or you can lay flat on your back. You will breathe in through your nose using a deep belly breath. To tell if you are doing it right, place your hand on your stomach and when you breathe in your hand should rise with your stomach. Once you breathe fully in you will breathe out using your mouth. The out breath should be relaxed and should feel like you’re breathing from your throat. After you breathe out immediately breathe in again. Repeat this process 30 times. Once you breathe out on breathe number 30, you will hold this out breath. Hold until you feel the urge to breathe and then take a deep breath into your belly. Hold this in breathe for 15 seconds then breathe out. Repeat this process 3 times. It is normal to feel your body temperature change while doing the exercise. I recommend starting slow with your breathing and as you get more comfortable, increase the speed and depth at which you breathe.
With all the benefits it offers (inflammation reduction, improved sleep quality, and production of endorphins), cold therapy is very popular right now. We can see many wellness centers incorporating cold tubs, cryotherapy and ice baths in their facilities. Luckily, you can experience all the benefits right from your own home.
For the cold exposure you can take cold showers, ice baths or even, if you are crazy enough, go for a dip in a local lake or river. Personally, I take a cold shower every morning. It wakes my body up and gets my mind right for the day. For the cold shower what you can do is step in and turn the water on warm then turn it to cold for 30 seconds then flip it back to warm for as long as you need. Do this 4-5 times. For any cold exposure, start with short intervals and work your way up to longer periods of time. Always end with cold being your last interval.
The third and final pillar is Commitment. I believe this is the most important of the three. This method is a practice and takes time to fully master. Without commitment, patience and dedication your ability to improve these 2 exercises is highly unlikely. In weight lifting there is the concept of progressive overload. You start with light weights and over time when your body gets used to that weight you increase it. Slowly you are able to lift more and more weight. The Wim Hof Method behaves the same way. Instead of weight, you are increasing your stress bearing capacity (Longer breath holds and longer time in the cold). Each time you do these exercises your stress bearing capacity increases and over time you are able to handle more stress (pretty cool!). Commitment is the name of the game. Even if you don’t see results right away, keep going.
Stress is non-negotiable. But, with the Wim Hof Method, you can increase your stress bearing capacity and can learn to manage it better.
There are so many stress management techniques out there. Try what works for you and commit to it. Take time to focus on your mind and you will find yourself happier, healthier and more energetic. If you have any questions about the method or would like more information go to their website.
|Welcome to the Official Wim Hof Method Website
Discover your inner fire at the Wim Hof Method website. Become happy, strong & healthy with our online courses, workshops, travels & app. Visit us today.
For now stay healthy, keep going, you’ve got this.