But the mental stress of worrying about this invisible fiend is tearing apart people’s sanity and dismantling their immune system therefore ironically, in the end, making them even more susceptible to disease and ailments.
Our heart is feeling the pressure 24/7 as it strenuously pumps blood throughout the body as our lungs that are right next door are barely given the chance to open up and expand or let go fully without constriction.
Along with this added societal, emotional, and psychological stress we have shifted to staying primarily in a sympathetic way of being.
This is associated with “fight or flight” and was super helpful when we had to watch out for bloodthirsty beasts like saber-toothed tigers way back when.
We aren’t allowing ourselves to calm down the mind and body so we can be in a parasympathetic mode where we are therefore giving the body time to rest, heal itself, properly digest food and mitigate the daily stressors that constantly barrage us.
To cope with all this stress, people reach for medication prescribed by clueless doctors they trust or attempt to forget how they feel by numbing themselves to the pressure and turmoil with sitcoms and mindless TV.
In other words, we vicariously live through other people’s realities to escape our own.
And as we watch TV we make sure the temperature is set just right throughout the house so it’s not too hot or cold.
Just like Goldilocks and the three bears.
That must have been a metaphor for comfort zones?
In the fridge, our food is perfectly preserved and we don’t have to run outside with a bow and arrow and attempt to hunt our meal. It’s ready to be eaten in only three minutes in the microwave.
*Beep. beep.beep* It’s done!
Dig into the processed goodness.
Kudos if you’re actually heating up REAL food though!
Honestly, our prehistoric ancestors would be totally embarrassed if they could travel forward in time and witness how soft and fragile a species we have turned into.
Humans back then would trudge through the snow and forests with nothing more than a small cloth covering their genitals.
Your ancestors had sharpened senses, a tough-as-nails warrior spirit, and most importantly highly adaptable bodies that could withstand practically any extreme weather or circumstance that befell them.
We need this kind of stress in our life.
I’m talking about the good acute stress that builds character, forges mental resiliency, and strengthens the body.
This is called hormesis.
One form of hormesis is when you tear muscle fibers while going beast mode sweating profusely in a challenging workout.
The small tearing is helpful because at night your muscles will grow larger as you sleep thus allowing you to reap the benefits of the workout.
It’s time you got used to some extra stress in your life to build yourself into the warrior that lies within you waiting to be brought out once again.
It’s your biological birthright after all!
And if you truly want to tap into the raw potential (see what I did there) of your indomitable ancestors you need to learn how to harness one of the best types of hormetic stress available
I’m talking about cold exposure!
That means exposing your naked body to the frigidity of an icy lake or through a simple cold shower.
In the heart of the Netherlands resides a wise middle-aged Dutch sage with a scraggly beard and jolly demeanor.
Wim Hof has been given the nickname “The Iceman” for his unique ability to utilize the elements of subzero temperatures to optimize his health and regulate his internal body temperature through a dynamic combination of deep breathing and repeated exposure to the cold.
Because of this trained ability, he broke numerous world records which include summitting Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, and then years later he ran a half marathon above the arctic circle.
Other incredible feats include being stuck inside a giant block of ice for a few hours in front of the Ruben Museum Of Art in New York City!
Wim is remarkable in his ability to consciously control his core temperature and manipulate his nervous system using his Wim Hof Method which consists of three Pillars:
🌬️ Pillar 1 : Breath
🧊 Pillar 2: Cold
🧠 Pillar 3: Commitment (Mind)
But the truth is that ANYONE can do what Wim has done using his method.
Support Wim’s mission to share the benefits of cold exposure and his breathing method by grabbing Wim’s book!
Much of the information in this post was gathered from it.
So how do you do this?
It’s simple, just take a regular shower like you normally do then turn the knob to as cold as you can get and bask in the freezing water for at least 2 minutes.
If this is too much starting then go with 30 seconds of cold one week, 45 seconds the next week, 1 minute, and so on until you are more or less comfortable with being in the cold.
After 10 days you will start seeing a noticeable difference in your ability to withstand the cold and your heartbeat will lower to around 15-30 bpm. Slower beating means less stress on your cardiovascular system.
And before you even do this it helps to heat up the body and oxygenate your blood using the breathwork method mentioned below.
So what benefits will you experience from doing this?
Well, as I mentioned your vascular system will be adapting over time and the vascular tone will improve keeping your heart, capillaries, arteries, and blood vessels pumping blood and carrying the blood most efficiently without strain.
With the vascular tone developed you acquire increased tolerance to the cold and your body temperature is able to set itself in an optimal range more frequently.
A benefit I’ve experienced that’s not mentioned in the book is that you will easily bring up any mucus and phlegm inside the chest or throat so if you’re congested this is amazing!
If you’re a diabetic check out this next point…
I listened to a podcast episode from Ben Greenfield and he mentioned that cold exposure and cold showers have been shown to minimize blood sugar elevation. This is pretty cool if you already ate a big breakfast beforehand or on the rare occasion, you sneaked a sweet from the pantry.
If that’s not the right episode try this one.
The shock of the cold water in your shower and then forcing your body to stay in that at-first uncomfortable setting releases opioid-like euphoria-inducing cannabinoids, which are brain chemicals that help to numb the pain.
This is very similar to when a tattoo artist is burning the ink onto someone’s skin.
Initially, it’s excruciatingly painful for (most) people but then that eventually subsides as this natural Novocain is produced in the brain.
You also release the brain chemical norepinephrine which is associated with heightened focus, memory, and mood regulation.
All of this is why I like to say that cold showers are better than a cup of coffee!
Don’t take my word for it! I’ll let you decide that for yourself.
But the cold is only one of the 3 pillars that Wim teaches.
So let’s learn how to use your breath to keep your body young and healthy.
Carbon Dioxide (C02) along with various types of foods (such as meat) are naturally acidic.
When the body is more acidic it’s also more prone to disease and inflammation.
As you perform the Wim Hof breathing method you will be exhaling a ton of C02 from your body and taking in a great deal of 02 (Oxygen)
This alkalizes your body and cells and therefore this change of biochemistry boosts your immunity and assists with keeping illness at bay.
It’s also why you should perform the breathing technique BEFORE eating breakfast on an empty stomach or later in the day after lunch has digested.
Digestion is a parasympathetic state whereas the Wim Hof breathwork is sympathetic.
Just something to keep in mind.
This breathwork practice is especially beneficial as it relates to your lymphatic system which is your body’s detoxifying system!
As you go about your day all of your cells are functioning to keep all processes in your body functioning optimally.
But just like you have to take a crap at some point and get rid of excess waste so do they!
This biochemical waste can sit in the body if it’s not cleaned out by the lymphatic system.
This breathing method helps to remove that waste.
If you’re an athlete or just a very active person overall pay attention to what I’m about to say…
Lactic acid normally builds up in the muscles as you workout right?
Well, deep breathing with this method can cause aerobic dissimilation where oxygen flowing throughout the body breaks down that lactic acid.
In other words…
You can go much longer and harder without being as fatigued!
The molecules of ATP produced by your mitochondria are multiplied exponentially (which helps with muscle contraction) as well because you’re in a more anaerobic state and as a result, your V02 Max is significantly increased.
In case you aren’t an athlete V02 max is the measure of maximum oxygen consumption during exercise.
ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is a byproduct of your mitochondria when they take in oxygen and energy from the air you breathe and the food you eat.
Ok so so how do we do this?
Firstly, a word of caution:
DO NOT do this while you are driving or in the shower or near any body of water.
You can however do a little bit of deep breathing in and out to prep the body.
The Wim Hof Breathing Method
(4 rounds/40 breaths)
First, find a comfortable place to sit with your spine upright without any slouching.
Make sure you are relaxed and open.
(1) – Breath in quickly and deeply through your mouth (or nose) filling your lungs and expanding your diaphragm. Do not breathe from your chest as you won’t be able to take in quite as much oxygen. Then exhale completely letting it all go without any extra force or pushing.
Repeat this around 40 times. In deeply, out gently. At some point, you should feel tingling in your fingers and some light-headiness. This is expected and perfectly normal. Just keep breathing in and out, but if you feel that you are going to pass out then please stop.
You may also feel a tingling/energetic sensation in your chest. Again it’s normal and that means it’s working and your body is being charged up and your blood is being alkalized and oxygenated!
(2) – After inhaling for the 40th time exhale it all out.
(3) – Draw breath back in again and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without extra force. Then relax and let the air out and then hold.
This is known as the Retention Phase.
This urge to inhale, besides being a conscious desire to not die, is an acidic response of C02 being filled back up.
Naturally, the more oxygen you have and the more you repeat this process every day your body will have more oxygen and you can do physical activities like a pushup longer because the body has less carbon dioxide.
(4) – When you have the urge to breathe again take in one deep breath and hold 10-15 seconds.
This is known as the Recovery Breath.
(5) – Let all the air go as you completely relax. Then repeat steps 1-4 four times with 40 breaths each round.
Get the Wim Hof App and use the new guided speech bubble with Wim’s voice in the background and clear audio of the breathing cycle so you can stay in tune with the flow of this method and track your progress.
Tomorrow I challenge you to start your day with an icy shower and incorporate breathing into your routine.
Leave a comment below and let me know how this help