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07/06/2021

Influencing Physical Wellbeing through the Wim Hoff method

Drake WorkWise Team

Wim Hoff, also known as The Iceman, is an extreme athlete known for his ability to withstand freezing conditions. He believes “if you can learn how to use your mind, anything is possible” and he applies this principle to all that he practices and preaches. 

Wim Hoff’s principles influence both physical and mental Wellbeing. When we have control over our mind, we can change the way we feel, experience, and live. The Wim Hoff method has been scientifically proven, confirming the human ability to voluntarily influence the autonomic nervous system.The nervous system takes in all the information around you and sends messages to your muscles, controlling your vital organs and essentially, keeping you alive.

For a long time it was thought that we have no control over our nervous system. In 2009, Wim proved otherwise, achieving a scientific breakthrough. Amid a full ice immersion wearing only shorts, Wim’s core temperature started at 36.9°C and dropped to 31.1°C after 75 minutes of cold immersion. His temperature then rose to 34.4°C within the next 20 minutes. Historically, experts have been of the belief that once your core temperature falls below 32.2°C, your body will be incapable of warming itself up again and if no heat source is provided, it will spiral downwards into hypothermia and potentially death.

Using the Wim Hoff method, Wim was able to increase his core temperature from 31.1 °C to 34.4 °C.

The Wim Hoff method is based on three powerful pillars:

  1. Breathing - not surprisingly, breathing is fundamental to our existence yet we are mostly unaware of its full potential. When we increase our consumption of oxygen levels, we increase our energy levels, reduce stress, and augment our immune response which keeps us fit and healthy!
  2. Cold therapy - despite the initial discomfort, exposure to cold conditions has a plethora of health benefits. These include fat loss, reduced inflammation - strengthening the immune system, balanced hormone levels, better quality sleep and the production of feel good endorphins.
  3. Commitment - commitment is the foundation of the other two pillars. Without commitment, one can never truly master the breathing technique or the cold therapy. With commitment, you'll be ready to explore and take control of both your mind and your body.

When we combine breathing with cold therapy and commitment, we’re able to unlock endless benefits. Some of these include:

  • Reduced stress level and dealing with depression
  • Enhanced creativity and increased willpower 
  • Stronger immune system
  • Better sleep and more energy
  • Heightened focus & determination

Read more on the benefits. From an organisational perspective, these benefits are tenfold.

When workers are physically ‘well’, we see lower rates of absenteeism and injury, higher levels of  engagement and productivity, bolstered creativity and innovation, and overall improved organisational performance.

After the events of 2020, mental health has become a topic of interest by individuals, teams and organisations globally. Without detracting from the importance of mental health and Wellbeing and the role it plays in today's world, we must not lose sight of the weight our physical Wellbeing carries in each and every one of our lives. 

By experimenting with these types of personal practices, simultaneously engaging our mental and physical power, we are utilising and increasing our resilience, emotional control and reaction impulse. Most organisations are currently focusing on upskilling employees in these soft skills through training and development. With online learning and  engagement at its threshold, inviting employees to trial ‘new’ forms of learning not only encourages creativity and innovation but when undertaken as a team commitment, it promotes a sense of challenge and achievement. Better yet, it comes at no financial investment to the employer. 

As we strive towards living well, instilling the right values in organisations and their workers, and working towards a complete state of Wellbeing, a little certainly goes a long way. If you’re stuck on how to kickstart your Wellbeing or where the best place is to start, make a pledge to yourself to commit to daily breathing practice and an ice cold shower… you never know the influence such a simple change may have on your lives!

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