SUMMARY – In this post, I discuss The Wim Hof Method and talk about how it has dramatically changed my life for the better and why I recommend you try it.
I’m going to be honest with you.
A few years ago, and up until quite recently, I wasn’t in the best place.
From 2015 to 2019 I was heavily in debt, had an ongoing gambling problem, and was quite a negative and cynical person.
Placing daily football bets online seemed to be my escape from my dull and very ordinary life, at least that’s what I thought at the time.
As a result, my mind was pretty screwed up, on the inside, of course, my exterior was always trying to be positive and happy, I had to put on a brave face.
I often remember that I would wake up early around 6 am to bet on the Asian football leagues, and from there my phone wouldn’t leave my hands until I was back in bed, staring blankly at my phone while I was placing bets on late night European and American games.
This became a vicious cycle, one that I struggled to get out of, as I would keep telling myself “the next bet could be the big win I’ve been dreaming of“.
And if I win, then all my problems would disappear.
Of course, that’s complete drivel.
Fast-forward to now and my life has completely changed.
I try to wake up at 6 am, sometimes earlier, and meditate, visualise, practice gratitude, work out and of course practice the Wim Hof Method.
If you’ve never heard of Wim Hof, then you’re seriously missing out on some awesome stuff.
Wim is a 62-year-old Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures.
I mean, he’s so freaking cool that his nickname is The Iceman, how badass is that.
To give you some examples of his records, on the 16th of March 2000, Wim set the record for the fastest swim under ice, with a distance of 57.5 meters.
In February 2009, he reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro within two days, wearing only shorts and shoes.
Basically, he’s a bloody maniac, but a cool one nonetheless.
Over the last few years, Wim’s teachings have become more well known, with many claiming he has helped them beat things such as anxiety and depression.
Now, as I’ve touched upon previously, I have dealt with my own share of issues over the last few years, as I’m sure you probably have also. I’ve worked my ass off to get to where I am today, which is a more stable, confident, and self-assured person.
I’ve tried and tested loads of different personal development methods, read lots of helpful books, I’ve learned new skills, you name it.
However, of all the things I’ve tried, I can honestly tell you that the stuff Wim Hof teaches has probably had one of the biggest impacts on my life.
And that’s because his methods include cold therapy, breathing, and meditation.
This is marketed by him as the Wim Hof Method. So if you google the ‘Wim Hof Method’ it comes up with his website, all his amazing records, and loads of information about Wim himself, so I invite you to check that out if you’d like to know more about him.
The Wim Hof Method has become a sort of a staple in my daily routine, so I try to consistently practice his methods and I’ve found that they really do help.
The first part of the Wim Hof Method is cold therapy, which is essentially a practice based around the idea that exposing our bodies to extremely cold temperatures can help to boost our immune system, improve body and muscle repair, and speed up our metabolism.
Now according to Wim, our bodies are naturally capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and wild environments, but in the Western world, we have artificially controlled our surrounding temperatures to make us comfortable, rather than capable.
Wim feels that we have forgotten how to control our inner power and fire, which means that we find it much more difficult to use the ‘mind over matter’ mantra to adapt to difficult situations.
To be honest with you, I don’t really like cold water therapy. And that’s because, you know what, I hate cold water.
I mean who in their right mind would choose a freezing cold shower in the morning over a lovely hot one.
But as I’m sure you know, the things in life that are best for us aren’t always the most enjoyable, which is why chocolate is bloody delicious and brussel sprouts taste like cat piss.
I’m probably going to get a lot of hate for that because I know loads of people that love their sprouts. I don’t know how you guys stomach it, disgusting! Anyway, you get the idea.
So when I have a shower in the morning, I try and spend a few minutes at the end under cold water, or as long as I can tolerate.
I find this really helps to wake me up in the morning and give me the energy I need to start my day right.
Now you might be sitting there reading this and thinking to yourself, that sounds terrible.
And you know what?
You’d be right, it sucks!
But only for around 30 seconds, then you kind of get used to it.
And you even start to feel exhilarated and almost godlike.
In fact, I actually recently compared having a cold shower to necking a double espresso, only without the shits after.
So cold showers, I seriously recommend them.
Get it done tomorrow or when you have your next shower. Turn that dial all the way down on the coldest setting, and just relax, breathe, be mindful, and try not to scream 😉
So aside from the amazing psychological benefits of cold therapy, there are actually some quite amazing physiological benefits as well.
The first one being, weight loss, and I’ve got to admit that when I first saw this, I thought it was a load of bull.
And to be honest, I’m still not a hundred percent convinced.
However, according to Wim Hof, research has shown that cold showers and actually exposure to the cold in general, In addition to increasing metabolic rate, directly stimulate the generation of brown fat.
Brown fat is a specific type of fat tissue, that, in turn, generates energy by burning calories.
Therefore, it seems that regular cold showers could be an effective tool for anyone wanting to lose a few pounds.
Probably the biggest physiological benefit, and I guess you could say psychological too, is the effect that the Wim Hof Method has on the sympathetic nervous system and the immune system.
So this is quite interesting…
In a study, Wim was exposed to cold temperatures, whilst his body temperature actually remained stable throughout, which may suggest that cold exposure has positive effects on levels of brown fat tissue.
Furthermore, a 2014 study by Radboud University in the Netherlands, aimed to test if the results from the first study on Wim, could be reproduced with a larger group.
In this study, researchers injected 12 Wim Hof Method practitioners with endotoxin, which when entering the blood can cause fever and a wide range of other possible effects including aseptic shock and even death.
Amazingly results showed that like Wim, they were able to control their sympathetic nervous system and immune response.
Anti-inflammatory meditators were 200% higher while pro-inflammatory meditators were 50% lower.
Another benefit, of course, is reduced muscle inflammation, which is why many athletes use things like ice baths for recovery as they can help relieve the effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Essentially, any activity that pushes your muscles beyond the limits they are accustomed to can lead to microscopic tears in the fibers, and inflammation of the tissue.
Coldwater immersion has been scientifically proven to help counteract these side effects.
This is because it lowers the temperature of the damaged tissue and constricts the blood vessels.
This helps reduce the swelling and inflammation and even numbs the nerve endings to bring immediate relief to any pain.
Now, of course, like anything within the health and well-being sector, there are contrasting opinions about this, with some research stating the effects icebaths have on recovery isn’t as good as they seem.
But from my own personal perspective, I found they do work.
A few years ago, I tore my hip labrum, which can be fairly serious.
This is basically a ring of cartilage that sits around the hip joint and acts as a shock absorber, which of course at the time was very important for me because I was very active.
I think it was a combination of doing too much and neglecting my hip health by not stretching enough and failing to correct my muscular imbalances.
So yes, it really sucked!
At the time I was playing football in a league on Wednesday evenings with my friends and really enjoying it, really doing quite well.
I just remember limping off one game in excruciating pain from my hip into my glutes and right down to my leg.
Me being me of course and being quite competitive and having a bit of an ego, obviously the next game I played and made it worse.
But during my recovery, one thing I found that really did help was ice baths, because my hip was so inflamed.
So I do believe they work and I believe being exposed to cold temperatures does have positive effects on the body, as well as the mind.
Personally, I’ve always used things like cold showers, ice baths, sea swimming, etc as more of a challenge to venture outside of my comfort zone and to strengthen my mindset.
Because if you’ve seen and heard any of the content I’ve put out there before you know I’ve always talked about doing more things that scare you, that is outside your comfort zone.
Because as humans we grow through hardship and struggle, we don’t grow through prosperity and doing things that are easy.
This is why, as I said, I have cold showers in the morning.
Actually, a few months ago in March, I went swimming in the sea.
I think at the time it was about eight or nine degrees and as you can imagine, it was bloody freezing, but I did it!
At least for 5 minutes, then my body began to get too cold.
It was a really big mental challenge for me, especially at 7 am in the morning, but after I felt amazing.
Once you’ve accomplished something like that, and you’ve done something your brain and body are saying, “hang on a minute, this isn’t normal”, you do feel great after and nothing and no one can possibly spoil your day after you accomplish something like that.
So the next part of the Wim Hof Method is breathing.
So Wim claims that when we breathe properly, oxygen levels in the tissues increase, and adrenaline floods the body, granting strength that we didn’t know we had.
He goes on to say, “If you oxygenize the body the way he does it, the oxygen gets into the tissue. [Regular] breathing doesn’t do that,” he says.
“What happens in the brain stem, the brain says, ‘there is no oxygen anymore’, then it triggers adrenaline to shoot out throughout the body”.
“Adrenaline is for survival, but this time it is completely controlled… the adrenaline shoots out throughout the body and resets it to the best functionality.”
To practice the Wim Hof breathing method you can easily try it out yourself from home.
1. 20-30 Power Breaths – Pretend that you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through your nose fully and then forcefully exhale through your mouth in powerful air-emptying bursts. Keep a steady pace, and use your whole chest and diaphragm. Perform 20-30 power breaths or until your body feels completely oxygenated. You might feel a bit lightheaded or get tingling sensations – that’s okay.
2. The No-Oxygen Hold – After you’ve completed your 30 power breaths, inhale deeply and fill your lungs to capacity. Then, force all the air out. In this Oxygen depleted state, hold your breathe for as long as you possibly can until you experience the gasp reflex. Try and calm down, go a little longer than your first instinct. Aim for at least 1 minute if possible.
3. The Recovery Breath – When you need to breathe, inhale deeply. Release any tension in your solar plexus and hold that breath in. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Then fully breath out slowly.
4. The Oxygenated Hold – This is optional, but in my opinion completes the process. Take one last huge breath in, shoulders back and chest up. Hold some tension in your back, and hold your breath for as long as you can go. It will likely be slightly longer than the No-Oxygen Hold. When you need to breathe, go ahead. This is one round.
You may feel a little dizzy or tingly – that’s to be expected. Your body has just been super oxygenated and then starved of oxygen. It will feel like a high, and you’ll want to do it again. At least that’s how it makes me feel.
I actually do this most mornings, and Wim’s got a fantastic beginner video on Youtube, so I really recommend you check that out.
In a nutshell, here are some of the benefits of practicing Wims breathing methods:
- An increase in energy levels
- Lowered stress levels instantly and overtime
- Strengthened immune system
- Improved focus and concentration
- Improved sleep quality
- A boost in your mood by releasing endorphins
- Improved and increased blood circulation
Again, from a personal perspective on this, I 100% recommend you try it.
I feel amazing after doing it and definitely always notice an increase in my mood, my focus and it’s just a great way to start your day.
And finally, the last thing that makes up the Wim Hof Method is meditation.
You don’t have to be a genius to know that meditation has some amazing benefits.
It’s widely regarded as one of the best ways to help reduce things like anxiety and depression and I’ve personally used meditation for quite some time now.
“Meditating is exercising your brain, just like you train your body by executing physical exercises.”
“For most people, it is pretty hard at first to start meditating and start thinking of absolutely nothing, but when you introduce just a couple of minutes of meditation exercises in your everyday routine before you know it the exercises will become as common as brushing your teeth.”
By doing meditation exercises you gain control over your thoughts and feelings.
Other known benefits of meditation exercises include things such as:
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced stress
- Lower blood pressure
- A relaxed state of mind
- Lower heart rate
So, if you’re someone that hasn’t meditated before or you don’t know how to meditate, go on youtube, there’s plenty of tutorials and great advice out there.
And the great thing is, you don’t have to meditate for long to experience the benefits.
You don’t have to become a monk and get up at 4 am and meditate for hours every day, all you need is 5-10 minutes. That’s all!
Every morning when I get up, I make myself a coffee, and whilst it’s brewing, I meditate for around 10 minutes. It’s not a long time, but as I said, that’s literally all you need.
And by the time I’m done, my coffee’s done. There you go, killing two birds with one stone.
You really have no excuse. Because everyone has a spare 10 minutes a day.
So, give it a go.
Tomorrow morning, wake up early before anyone else so you’re not distracted, find a peaceful place in your house, get comfortable and just take 10 minutes by yourself, to relax, chill out, be mindful, breathe and be present.
And that ladies and gentleman, is the Wim Hof Method.
The Wim Hof Method has changed my life for the better.
So I can’t recommend it highly enough.
- Cold Therapy
Please give the Wim Hof Method a try and let me know how you get on.