I used to be the type of person who was always dressed properly (i.e., in several thick layers), because I was always cold. Winters were always the same: cold feet, cold hands and feeling bummed there was no sun. My nose was often runny and I got the flu from time to time.
To be honest, I was sick of having to do stuff myself with vitamins and I hated being always afraid and stressed that someone will sneeze their germs on me. Back then my partner had been practicing a more healthy lifestyle for a few months already and it had strengthened his immune system and improved his mental well-being. It's called the Wim Hof Method and I’ll tell you more about it later. He suggested that I join him and stop feeling cold all the time. All I need, he said, is the will to try it and a cold and safe environment. (You can imagine how I – a lover of everything warm – reacted when he told me that the cold can be my friend).
However, step by step I started with cold training and breathing exercises. The beginnings were rough; the cold water was like needles stabbing me everywhere and my body reacted with a scream. I could only last a few seconds in the shower. When I realized that the most important thing is to overcome the initial shock when you expose your body to the cold, I suddenly started to enjoy ice-cold showers more and more. And getting out of the shower and not wrapping yourself in the towel immediately felt amazing too. And let my body get warm on itself by breathing calmly and rocking from side to side while crouching slightly. In addition, I started practicing breathing exercises every day. The progress became obvious quite quickly. I was less tired after cold showers than I used to be after hot ones, it was easier to get out of the bed and in general I just felt more energized. Mentally I was doing better too, and I didn’t catch a cold as soon as the weather got colder. Gradually I managed to prolong my time spent in a cold shower from a few seconds to dozens of seconds in just a few weeks.
I still take cold showers like this several times a week. I don’t count the seconds, I just enjoy the cold and keep myself happy and healthy.
My goal now is to attend a whole-day workshop held by a certified instructor. My partner already attended it and even repeatedly dived into a pool with 250 kgs of ice (and one rubber ducky) for several minutes within the workshop. He told me it was an amazing experience.
So what is the Wim Hof method?
Basically it’s a way to positively impact the autonomous nervous system. That’s the system which cannot be controlled by your mind, which is why it is called autonomous. Secondarily, this affects other processes in the body, including autoimmunity. Basically, imagine an exercise that combines three basic pillars – breathing, cold and mind. By bringing all these three elements together, you will make your body accept the cold, it becomes more concentrated and the physical and mental perception of the surrounding situation increases.
Studies have shown the following positive effects of the Wim Hof method:
Positive impact on the immunity by stimulating catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline),
Reduction of infection occurrence in the body,
Positive impact on the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis, arthrosis and other,
Stimulation and improving the metabolism.
The founder of the method, as you might have guessed, is Wim Hof from the Netherlands. He is a holder of over 20 Guinness world records. Here are some of them:
Climbing Mt. Everest without an oxygen mask, only wearing shorts and socks,
Running a marathon inside the Arctic Circle at temperatures of -20°C in summer clothes,
a world record for staying in a tank with ice for 1 hour, 52 minutes and 42 seconds without his body temperature decreasing significantly,
Running a half-marathon in the Namibia desert without a drop of water.
Do you want to give it a try?
If you find this method interesting, I recommend downloading the Wim Hof Method mobile app, which contains videos, articles and instructions for breathing exercises read directly by Wim Hof, as well as a 30-day challenge for beginners.
If you want to learn more, I can recommend videos directly on Wim Hof’s channel that discuss the method in more detail.