How to use ice to deal with stress

I’ve been listening to Wim Hof on a couple of my favourite podcasts lately and intrigued to hear him promote his use of ice cold showers to build resilience and cope better with stress.

The Iceman

Known as the Iceman, Wim is from Denmark and has become famous for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures – he’s even won a Guinness world record for the longest time anyone has maintained full body contact with ice.
I love how passionately he talks about helping people take control of their minds so they can find happiness. It’s clear he has been on his own journey and has worked hard to change his mindset and develop an understanding of how we can evolve as human beings to a better place for a better world.

Let It Go

Having taken some time to process Wim’s thinking I started to feel that the core message came back to letting things go and looking inside for fulfilment rather than outside. I hate being out of my comfort zone both physically and mentally. I guess most people do. But my reflection after listening to Wim was a realisation that this means I have become overly dependent on the external factors that make me feel comfortable and safe. If these things are then threatened, or worse, not there at all, I can get completely consumed by fear which leads naturally to stress and anxiety and sometimes even depression.

The Gravy Train

Like most people, for a long time, I have been sold the western principles that success and achievement are things you attain and you need to tick these things off your list in a set order to move up the pyramid and be happy. I am in the process of trying to completely reframe that and it’s work in progress. As someone who at this moment has no house and an ongoing uncertain future, I can fall into the trap of pinning all of my future happiness on getting that certainty about what’s going to happen back. Not knowing what the future might bring certainly causes me stress, anxiety and depression. I am fixated on having those material things in place because that’s always been integral to my ego so ultimately I can feel like I’m worthy. And also because I don’t feel secure or happy without them

Reframing for a new mindset

I guess what I need to think about is how do I get to a place of feeling secure and worthy without that certainty and those material outward signs of success. And that’s where my thoughts connected with Wim’s method of taking a regular ice shower. The ice cold water represents the external factors in my life that I am unhappy about and are causing me stress.

Cold for Calm

I suppose it’s daily practice of the principle that I will try to be unaffected by difficult, uncomfortable, even painful external factors. If I can take my ice shower without fearing or feeling the ice cold water then my brain starts to learn to let go and accept what is, rather than fighting it, or letting it affect me. As Wim says, the cold helps you to learn how to regain control of your mind and start to manage the stress mechanisms in your body. Not only that but I would probably get a sense of pride that I had managed to withstand the ice and feel better and stronger for it, helping me to build resilience. I would know that if I had to do or experience anything else similarly unpleasant or difficult, that I would be able to manage.

Icy shower?

I’m thinking about giving it a try – I’m convinced by the theory but still afraid of the practice – I guess that sums up my overall progress on this journey so far. But I’m celebrating the fact that I’m open to new ideas and, little by little, I am starting to put them in place in my life beginning with small steps – maybe a cold blast at the end of my hot shower. I’ll let you know how this one goes!