I’ve been experimenting lately with the Wim Hoff method. Which involves breathing exercises and cold exposure. It is an interesting and challenging experiment to say the least. The video below gives an outline of the Wim Hof and his method.
In this post I won’t go into detail about the method, but I do want to talk about the benefits of cold exposure. Cold exposure is exposing your body to cold temperatures for a period of time. It can be in a cryo chamber, an ice bath or even just a cold shower.
There are two types of stress in your body Negative stress also known as Distress and positive stress also known as Eustress. Things like lack of sleep, emotional stress, and bad gut health can cause distress. Whereas Exercise, fasting, heat stress and cold stress are things that can cause eustress.
Eustressors are hormetic this means, that at the right dose they have benefits to the body. So even things that are harmful at higher doses can be helpful at the correct dose. For example cold. Get too cold of too long, then you get hypothermia and die. Get cold for the right amount of time and there are many health and mental benefits.
Some of the benefits of cold exposure include
· Improved mood
· Reduced systemic inflammation
· Possible restoration of degraded neural synapses
· Improved general immune function
· Increased metabolism
· Possible improved aerobic capacity
· Mental toughness
This is just a simplified overview, if you want more detailed information on Cold stress, Check out Dr Rhonda Patrick’s website (https://www.foundmyfitness.com/?sendme=cold-stress). She has a great report on cold exposure that explains much of the research that has been done on it.
All of these benefits are what initially attracted me to trying this cold exposure experiment, but it is difficult to take a cold shower regularly. So I used this to work on building habits and develop a practice. BJ Fogg has a process he calls Tiny Habits. How it works is as follows:
· Takes Less than 30 seconds
· Easy to do
· Builds on an existing habit
So I decided to create a process to build this habit. I want to emphasise BUILD. It starts small and takes time to get to the end point that you imagine. This applies to many things, from training, to nutrition, to studies. So to build the habit I decided that at the end of every shower to turn the water to cold and stay in there for at least 30 seconds. It is harder to do in winter but the habit builds off an existing one. So each time I shower I have to turn off the hot water and for 30 seconds gut it out in the cold. Usually I end up going longer but for the odd time that I’m not feeling up to it 30 seconds is quite manageable to do. A low buy - in is important. If the buy in to build a habit is too high it is too hard to sustain. So creating a process with a low buy in builds momentum and allows you to grow the process your eventual bigger picture.
Enough on the whole habits thing. Why am I doing this?
· To build mental toughness through controlled discomfort
· Improve health (improved immune function, reduced inflammation, increased metabolism)
· Practice building good habits
· Build momentum to generate growth in all areas of life
So getting cold is cool. It’s not comfortable, I usually never want to do it, but it is necessary. Getting out of our comfort zones leads to growth. So try it if you’re up to it…