The Wim Hof Technique, brainchild of the eponymous Iceman who has made a career as a health guru through his ability to withstand sub-zero temperatures, is largely commended for the physical benefits that it provides – most notably the ability to reduce body fat and improve the performance of the human immune system.
What does not attract quite as much attention, however, is the positive impact that this curious approach can have on our mental health.
Wim Hof Technique = Trauma Releasing Exercise
The Wim Hof Technique (check out this post for a detailed look at the techniques and how to do it) is a Trauma Releasing Exercise in all but name.
TREs are an increasingly popular method to cope with generalized anxiety and clinical depression, conditions that leave the brain and body in a constant state of fight or flight tension.
Often revolving around allowing the body to shake or tremor, the idea is that any concerns are leaving our physical selves through this vigorous physical activity.
Both elements of the Wim Hof Technique – the forced hyperventilation and cold condition exposure – are designed to force the body into reacting faster to these kind of stresses, and thus with a heightened awareness to stress and anxiety, you'll find it becomes less and less a noticeable part of your everyday life.
You will feel stronger, sleep better, and feel more energized – all things that many of us take for granted, but others find that anxiety and depression have robbed them of.
Of course everybody is different, and if the Wim Hof Technique is to work for your unique brain chemistry and circumstances, you may have to be prepared for things to seem as though they are getting a little worse before they get better.
When you initially embark upon the Wim Hof Technique you will be altering the chemistry of your body, and as a result it may very well go into shock.
This could lead to an outpouring of emotion that you were not prepared for, but treat this in a similar method to physical pain – while that needs to leave the body in order to begin the process of healing, so too does psychological and mental anguish.
This technique is all about giving yourself a new start, and you can't commence a new chapter in your life without first concluding the previous one.
Wim Hof himself is no stranger to depression, having battled the condition following the passing of his first wife, and that was when he first discovered his technique and began cold weather training.
Wim Hof is no stranger to depression having battled the condition following the death of his wife.
In many respects, his intention is to help followers of his teachings to help themselves – to discover their own so-called 'inner fire'.
Meditation is often referred to as one of the key components of the technique, as well as a frequent recommendation from healthcare professionals for remedying anxiety and depression (the art of so-called mindfulness), and by adding breathing exercises and cold weather training to the mix we have the makings of a very potent weapon in the battle against mental illness.
However, it should be stressed once more that there are no guarantees in the case of such a complex condition. Medical professionals have long been confounded as to what causes anxiety and depression and how best to treat these illnesses.
While science can back up the physical health claims of the Wim Hof Technique, it's much trickier to produce substantiation of the mental impact.
Training our minds and bodies to adapt to physical stress, however, can only be a good thing, and anecdotal evidence certainly suggests that many have benefited from this unique approach to mental health.
If you would like to give it a try - why not check out my article that gives specific details of the techniques and how you can get started today.