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It looks like when you take a cold shower or bath your veins get smaller and when you take hot shower your veins get wider. But is that right and do you need to breath more in both cases because you got less oxygen? If so how does it work in both cases?
There is an adaptation to being submerged in cold water in mammals called the Mammalian diving reflex. Have you ever noticed when you jump into cold water, or enter a really cold shower you take a big breath? While not exactly correlated with the dive reflex, it shows that there is a neurological reflex of entering cold water. Here is a brief overview of what can happen when you submerge yourself in cold water:
- Lower heart rate - aka Bradycardia, slowing down the rate of blood pumped will decrease the oxygen requirement of red blood cells, which in turn allow organs like the brain to use oxygen.
- Smaller veins - aka Vasoconstriction, the blood flow in your fingers and toes is reduced, allowing more blood to be used in the more important organs. Eventually the vasoconstriction will apply to hands and feet.
- Blood shift - this adaptation allows the submerged animal to dive without having their thorax to collapse due to increased pressure. Not necessarily attributing to breathing patterns though, so I left the boring stuff out and paraphrased.
In hot water, the opposite happens with respect to #'s 1 and 2. Increased heart rate, like when you go running, tends to increase breathing frequency. Vasodilation allows blood to flow more easily and is primarily for heat exchange. Have the warmer blood in your fingers exchange heat to the environment will cool it for the return to systemic circulation. Surface area is a large factor with heat exchange. Hope this provided some insight.
Diving into cold water
Elsewhere we've talked about some of the challenges of free-diving, the lack of air, the pressure, but I think my first problem would be that the water is just far too cold. We spoke to Heather Lunt from the University of Portsmouth who investigates how the body responds to immersion in extremely cold water.
Kate - So Heather, I at primary school used to have to swim in an open air swimming pool. It had no heating and I was regularly hoicked out of my swimming lessons because I just turned blue in the face. So, what happens to people like me who get put in incredibly cold water?
Heather - Well firstly, when you go into cold water, you can expect that you'll have this large gasp, followed by very fast breathing, uncontrollably fast breathing, so you can't talk and a really high heart rate. Now, we call this the cold shock response and this is what happens in the first couple of minutes of being in cold water.
Kate - And I suppose that's not very helpful. As you gasp, all that cold water is going to be able to rush into your lungs. Is that something you can learn to control?
Heather - Well, it's something that we can habituate to, we can get used to, by repeated immersion in cold water. But really, the idea is that we should where possible, enter water slowly so that we reduce this cold shock response and another advice sounds a bit pedantic when you're on dry land, but try not to panic and just keep your airway above the water level.
Kate - In a longer term when you're stuck in the water after that initial shock, what happens then?
Heather - You've got over this cold shock response. It takes 2 to 3 minutes for your breathing to calm down. We start to see a gradual cooling of the body. It takes between 3 to 30 minutes and it's really dependent on a large number of factors such as the water temperature that you're in, the amount of body fat that you have as well, and also, you get what we call a cooling of the nerves and muscles. And so, you start to lack the ability to move your fingers and toes in a coordinated fashion.
Kate - What do we mean when we talk about extremely cold water? How cold were you talking that it starts to become dangerous and we start to lose this feeling and our ability to keep afloat?
Heather - When we talk about cold water, we're talking from normal sea temperatures. Around the UK, standard sea temperature in summer would be between 15, 16, 17 degrees. We class that as cold, but we often see swimmers going into open water pools, into lidos at much lower temperatures.
Kate - I personally swim in lidos and I can guarantee that it is personally freezing, and I find a lot harder to swim outside in those cold temperatures. At what point does it become dangerous and affects our ability to swim?
Heather - We regulate our body temperature around 37 degrees Celsius and we will vigorously defend that. We have what's called - we term it clinically low deep body temperature at around 35 degrees Celsius. But long before we reach that low body temperature, the muscles and nerves of the arms will start to cool to the point where we're not able to coordinate action to swim. We then start to lose our coherence and gradually, as we cool to around 30 degrees, we become unconscious. And after that point, death will ensue.
Chris - What about some people who are more vulnerable to being cold than others? If I go in a swimming pool, I usually last about 20 minutes max whereas my wife, my daughter, who is tiny compared with me, they can spend all day in there. Are there some people who are more vulnerable to being cold immersed than others?
Heather - Certainly, body fat is an indicator. The insulative layers that you have will reduce the rate at which you cool. Also, the amount of exercise that you're undertaking, it may be that you may stand at the side of the pool and your daughter is very active in the water so, producing a large amount of heat to offset that cooling that's occurring despite her large surface area to volume ratio.
Kate - And does anything else affect that apart from body fat? Mine is particular high, but what can we learn about how we protect ourselves within the water?
Heather - If we know we're going into water, we can make sure we're wearing a life jacket or buoyancy aid. We can make sure that we don't thrash around too much, air trapped in the layers of our clothing will add buoyancy and also, what we need to do is once we've got over the cold shock response, we know that our fingers will start to cool rapidly within the first 30 minutes or so. And so, we need to think about our exit strategy early before we start to lose the ability to use our fingers and hands in a coordinated fashion.
Chris - So, if you are dumped in cold water, is it better to try to swim to stay warm or is it better to stay still and get a sort of bubble of warm-ish water around you, so you lose heat less quickly?
Heather - That's a million dollar question and that on-going in terms of research. I'm going to sit on the fance here. It really depends on the situation you're in, the water temperature, and also, your ability to actually swim to a point of safety, and raise the alarm. So, I'm going to sit on the fence here because there are so many factors involved that it has to be a coherent decision which is made, depending on the situation you're in.
Kate - You also trained I think Helen Skelton who did her experiment cycling to the south pole.
Heather - Yes, we did. That was a fantastic day, teaching her about - not only about the risk of having a cold deep body temperature, but also the effects of cold air, and how they can cause non-freezing cold injury - a condition of the nerves but also, how it can cause frost bite.
Kate - How do you go about investigating this? You're based down in Portsmouth. I presume you don't just take people out into the sea and dump them in when you're ready.
Heather - We have well setup labs down here where we have ability to put people into cold water and a range of safety criterias so that we ensure that we don't get people dangerously cold. So, we have, not only a cold water tank and immersion facility, but also a cold air chamber as well.
Chris - When I used to sit in lectures at medical school, I remember one person saying that there are some people who can swim in the Barents Sea, no problem. There are others that are far less resilient. And there was something special about those individuals. They didn't open up their blood vessels again when they got very, very, very cold because there is this paradoxical - you let loads of blood flow into your tissue when you get very cold, don't you?
Heather - Yes, we do have what's called a hunting response. So, we have investigated this to some extent where we find that when the tissues become very cold, particularly in the fingers, we find that arterial blood vessels are paralysed and the blood vessels are gradually opened and so, it release blood back into the tissues, rewarming the tissues of the hand. But then once the hand is warmed slightly, this then means that the muscles around the arterials are able to contract again, causing that reduced blood flow again. It's supposed to be a protective mechanism to prevent local damage to the tissues occurring from being too cold.
Kate - We've been talking about applications to a medical sense from what we're learning about this extreme environment as well as understanding how we can save ourselves if we accidentally find ourselves in a very cold water environment. How else can we apply this?
Heather - Well, there's recent evidence within the medical literature which I'm by no means an expert in, but they've shown that selective brain cooling can help with survival through operations. So, making people cold slows down the rate at which the cells of the body use oxygen and so, buys them time that certain operations can be undertaken and they have fewer problems upon recovery from their operation by making their deep body cooler.
Extra Questions for Class 7 Science Chapter 10 Respiration in Organisms with Answers Solutions
Respiration in Organisms Class 7 Extra Questions Very Short Answer Type
Where does cellular respiration take place?
Cellular respiration takes place in the cells of all organisms.
What is aerobic respiration?
The process of breakdown of glucose with the use of oxygen is called aerobic respiration.
The process of taking in of air rich in oxygen into the body is called inhalation.
Which gas do humans take in while breathing?
Which gas do humans give out while breathing?
The process of giving out of air rich in carbon dioxide is called exhalation.
Give one usage of yeast.
Yeast is used for making alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, etc.
State aerobic respiration with the help of an equation.
State anaerobic respiration with the help of an equation.
When do our muscle cells respire anaerobically?
When there is a temporary deficiency of oxygen in the muscle cells they begin to respire anaerobically.
Give two therapies to release muscle cramps.
What are the functions of hair and mucus inside the nose?
Hair and mucus present inside the nose prevent dust, dirt and germs from entering the respiratory system of our body.
Name the breathing organs of fish.
Where are the lungs of human beings present?
Name one significant process of getting energy.
Respiration in Organisms Class 7 Extra Questions Short Answer Type
The process in living organisms involving the production of energy, typically with the intake of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide from the oxidation of complex organic substances is termed as respiration.
Define anaerobic respiration.
The process of breakdown of glucose without the use of oxygen is termed as anaerobic respiration. In this process, glucose is used to get energy and carbon dioxide and alcohol are made as waste products.
What are yeasts?
Yeasts are single-celled fungi that reproduce asexually by budding. They respire anaerobically and yield alcohol during the process. Hence, they are used in the making of alcoholic drinks, such as wine, beer, etc.
Why does anaerobic respiration take place in our muscles sometimes?
During heavy physical work like cycling, running, jumping, etc., the demand of energy is high but the supply of oxygen is limited. Hence anaerobic respiration takes place in the muscle cells to fulfil the demand of energy.
What causes muscle cramps?
Under anaerobic condition the partial breakdown of glucose produces lactic acid in the cells. The ac-cumulation of lactic acid causes muscles cramps.
What is breathing rate?
The number of times a person breathes per minute is known as the breathing rate. A single breath means one inhalation and one exhalation both take place alternatively.
Do we breathe only one gas at a time? If not, what amount of gases do we breathe respectively?
No, we do not take in or give out only one gas at a time. The percentage of oxygen and carbon dioxide in inhaled and exhaled air are:
Why do we feel hungry after physical activity?
During physical activity the demand of energy in the body increases. For the fulfilment of this energy requirement, we breathe faster, as a result of which oxygen is supplied to the cells. Hence, the rate of breakdown of food increases and more energy is released. So we feel hungry.
Explain the respiratory system in cockroaches.
A cockroach has small openings on the sides of its body, called spiracles. It also has a network of air tubes called tracheae for gas exchange. Oxygen rich air rushes through spiracles into the tracheal tubes, diffuses into the body tissue and reaches every cell of the body. Similarly, carbon dioxide from the cells goes into the tracheal tubes and moves out through spiracles.
What are the harmful effects of smoking?
Smoking damages lungs. Smoking is also linked to cancer.
Respiration in Organisms Class 7 Extra Questions Long Answer Type
Describe the mechanism of breathing in human beings with a suitable diagram.
- During inhalation, diaphragm moves down and ribs move up and outwards this movement increases space in our chest cavity and air rushes into the lungs. The lungs get filled with air.
- During exhalation, diaphragm moves up to its former position and ribs move down and inwards. The space in the chest cavity decreases and thus air from the lungs is forced to get out of the body through the air passage. This is known as exhalation.
What are the differences between cellular respiration and breathing.
|(i) Energy is released.||(i) Energy is not released.|
|(ii) It is a biochemical process.||(ii) It is a physical process.|
|(iii) The production of carbon dioxide gas takes place.||(iii) Carbon dioxide is given out and oxygen is taken in from the air.|
|(iv) It is an intracellular process.||(iv) It is an extracellular process.|
How does exchange of gases take place in fish? Draw a diagram of breathing organs in fish.
Fish have gills for respiration. Gills are feathery organs full of blood vessels. A fish breathes by taking water into its mouth and forcing it out through the gill passages. As water passes over the thin walls of the gills, dissolved oxygen moves into the blood and travels to the fish’s cells. Likewise carbon dioxide from the fish’s cells moves into the blood and is eliminated out through gills into the water.
Differentiate between photosynthesis and respiration.
|(i) Only green plants carry out this process.||(i) It takes place in all the animals and plants.|
|(ii) Oxygen is given out as waste material.||(ii) Carbon dioxide is given out as waste material.|
|(iii) Conversion of light energy into chemical energy takes place.||(iii) Breakdown of food takes place with the release of energy.|
|(iv) Carbohydrate is synthesised.||(iv) Carbohydrate is broken down.|
|(v) It occurs only in presence of light.||(v) It occurs in both light and dark.|
|(vi) Carbon dioxide is taken in this process.||(vi) Carbon dioxide is liberated in this process.|
Draw a well-labelled diagram
Describe the process of breathing in human beings.
When we breathe in, air enters through nasal cavity. The hair and mucus present in the nasal cavity traps dust and other particles present in air. Air from nasal cavity then reaches the pharynx in the neck region and the larynx. Below the larynx is the trachea. The trachea divides into two bronchi, right and left, which leads to the lungs.
In the lungs, each bronchus branches into smaller tubes called bronchioles. At the end of the bronchioles, small rounded structures called air sacs or alveoli are present. Each alveolus is made up of a very thin membrane surrounded by blood vessels. Exchange of gases occur in air sacs through the process of diffusion.
In short passage of air from nose can be depicted as:
Nose ➝ Nasal cavity ➝ Pharynx ➝ Larynx ➝ Trachea ➝ Bronchi ➝ Bronchioles ➝ Alveoli (air sac)
Respiration in Organisms Class 7 Extra Questions HOTS
Why do we yawn, especially when we feel drowsy and sleepy?
When we feel drowsy or sleepy our breathing rate slow down. The lungs do not get enough oxygen from air resulting in yawning. Yawning brings extra oxygen into the lungs.
Why do people often breathe out on the spectacles to clean them?
The warm and moist exhaled air condenses on the surface of spectacles as water vapour. Thus, making spectacles wet helps, to clean them easily with the help of a cloth.
On a very cold morning Radhika was amused and wondered to see that the air coming out of her mouth looked like smoke. Help her to find the answer.
On a cold day, when warm and moist air comes in contact with the cold air outside, it condenses into mist. This look like smoke.
Why do we feel relieved after a massage of the pain in the leg muscles due to cramps?
Massage improves the circulation of blood leading to increased supply of oxygen in the muscle cells which helps in complete breakdown of lactic acid into C02 and water. Thus, help in relieving of the pain.
Pick the odd-one-out from each of the groups given below on the basis of respiratory organs. Give reason for your answer.
- cockroach, grasshopper, snail, ant
- lizard, cow, earthworm, snake
- crocodile, whale, dolphin, fish
- snake, tadpole, crow, goat
- Snail as other breathe through tracheae
- Earthworm as other breathe through lungs
- Fish as other have lungs for respiration
- Tadpole as other breathe through lungs
What is difference between pores present in insects and leaves of a plant?
Pores in insects are known as spiracles whereas pores in the leaves of a plant is known as stomata. The differences between these two pores are:
- Spiracles are present on the sides of insects’ body whereas stomata are present more on the lower surface of leaves and fewer on the upper surface of leaves.
- Spiracles lead to an extensive network of tracheal system which is absent in the leaves.
- Spiracles are fewer in number as compared to stomata.
Respiration in Organisms Class 7 Extra Questions Value Based (VBQs)
A food stall owner for preparing dough for making bhaturas, added a pinch of yeast and sugar to the dough. He kept the mixture in a warm place. After few minutes, the dough increases in volume.
(a) Why did the dough increase in volume?
(b) Do you think there is any change in smell and taste of dough?
(c) Why was sugar added to the dough?
(d) What would have happened if the dough was kept in the refrigerator, soon after it was prepared?
(e) Name some similar phenomenon we observe in making other food items?
(f) Can we use some previous dough of bhatura instead of yeast to leaven the dough?
(a) The C02 released during respiration by the yeast gets trapped inside the dough and result in increase in volume.
(b) The smell and taste of dough will change to sour due to formation of alcohol and acid by yeast.
(c) Sugar acts as source of carbohydrate for yeast.
(d) The dough would not have increased in volume. In low temperatures, yeast would not multiply and respire. Thus, affecting the process of fermentation.
(e) We use the same phenomenon in making bakery items and idli and dosa.
(f) Yes, because previous dough will also have yeast to leaven the dough.
Recommendations to treat cystitis
1. Drink a lot of liquids
After the first signal or symptom of infection, you should drink at least one glass of water every hour. You’ll clean your bladder and get rid of the bacteria that may be causing cystitis.
2. Don’t ‘hold it in’
Your bladder will suffer because it must get bigger in order to give more space to the excess urine. That’s why you won’t have enough strength to eliminate all the urine and germs will “take advantage” of staying in your urinary system.
3. Apply heat to the area
Underneath your stomach, where it hurts a lot, is a good idea to put a hot compress or thermic pillow.
4. Take a sitz bath
If the burning sensation is very strong, take a warm sitz bath to ease your pain. Pregnant women are often not allowed to do this during gestation because it can cause miscarriages.
5. Stay hygienic when having sex
Your partner should have good hygiene in their genitals before having sex. And the same applies to you.
6. Wear cotton underwear
Especially women, because they have more contact with the clothing. Looser clothing allows your genitals to “breath” and they’ll also be dryer. For men, it’s best to wear boxers.
7. Avoid alcoholic beverages
They’re an irritant to your urinary tracts. For that reason, if you have cystitis often or are currently suffering from it, it’s best to not consume alcohol.
8. Change your birth control
The diaphragm that women use squeezes the opening of the bladder and damages it, which causes inflammation that doesn’t allow urine to pass properly. Spermicide gels can also cause disturbances in the defense mechanisms that the vagina has, which lets bacteria survive and moves them to the bladder.
9. Be aware of your bladder infections
If you suffer from them often, you should write them down in a notebook and identify the causes that may making you sick so you can treat cystitis properly. You may also discover what triggers them.
10. Be very careful about your genital hygiene
Don’t use vaginal deodorants or soaps. You should also avoid very hot and prolonged showers.
See a doctor if you have medical history in your family of kidney problems, if you have diabetes, are pregnant, suffer from tremors or vomiting, have a fever, bleed when urinating, suffer from high blood pressure, are older than 50 (for men), or suspect that you may have a sexually transmitted disease.
Cough Hacks: How to Find Relief
Coughing is a normal and healthy reflex. It helps your body clear your airways of mucus, smoke, and other irritants. But constant coughing can take a toll. It may interrupt your sleep, work, and activities, hurt your chest, and tire you out.
It’s best to stop a cough by treating the underlying cause, whether it’s a cold, allergies, acid reflux, or blood pressure drugs or other medications. But you also can try some home remedies to quiet your cough.
Drink lots of fluids. When you’re sick, mucus can trickle down the back of your nose. Staying hydrated thins the drip so it’s less likely to irritate your throat and trigger a cough. This also makes it easier for your lungs to clear out the discharge.
What’s more, a parched body may push your immune system to release more histamines. These chemicals swell your nose and make more mucus, which can set off a cough.
Swallow some honey. It soothes the scratchiness in the back of your throat. One study found that honey works just as well as over-the-counter drugs for calming nighttime coughs. Take a tablespoon as needed, or stir it into a warm drink. Don’t give honey to babies under age 1.
Sip a hot drink. Research shows that it can ease cold symptoms, including a cough. The liquids are hydrating, and the heat helps to lower congestion. Brew some calming chamomile tea. Ginger tea is another good choice. The spicy root may help relax the smooth muscles in your airways. Steep chopped ginger in boiling water for 5-10 minutes and discard before sipping.
Clear irritants from your home. Some people are sensitive to perfumes and fragrances in laundry detergents and air fresheners. That may irritate the sinuses and up mucus production, which sets the stage for hacking.
If you have allergies, cleaning away mold, dust, and pollen may help. These allergens may cause a reaction, including a cough. You may need to wash your sheets in hot water, clean your floors with a HEPA-filter vacuum, and scrub windows with a bleach solution.
Sleep on an incline. If a cold or an allergy is behind your cough, try raising your head. When you lie flat, the mucus can pool and irritate your throat. To put gravity on your side, use an extra pillow or raise the head of your bed with a stable surface, such as books.
Gargle saltwater. Along with soothing a sore throat, gargling can also help loosen thick mucus. It can also help clear away allergens and bacteria. To try it, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water. Gargle, then spit it out.
Stamp out cigarettes. Smoking paralyzes the tiny hairs lining your lungs, called the cilia, which clear out mucus and dirt. That’s why some smokers get long-term cough. Research so far suggests that the same may happen with vaping. Steer clear of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and secondhand smoke.
Moisten the air. A steamy shower or bath can help loosen the mucus and congestion behind your cough. A humidifier also may help. Be sure to clean and change the filter as directed by the manufacturer. This prevents it from blowing mold, fungi, and bacteria in your home.
Rinse your nose. It flushes out cough-inducing mucus and allergens from your nasal passages and sinuses. Use a saline spray or try nasal irrigation. With your head tilted over a sink, use a neti pot, nasal cup, or bulb syringe to pour salt water in one nostril and let it drain out of the other.
Eugene Lee, MD, Loyola Medicine, Maywood, IL.
U.S. Library of Medicine: “Cough.”
Endocrinology: “Dehydration Stimulates Hypothalamic Gene Expression of Histamine Synthesis Enzyme: Importance for Neuroendocrine Regulation of Vasopressin and Oxytocin Secretion.”
Rhinology: “The Effects of a Hot Drink on Nasal Airflow and Symptoms of Common Cold and Flu.”
JAMA Pediatrics: “Effect of Honey, Dextromethorphan, and No Treatment on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Coughing Children and Their Parents.”
Chest Journal: “Airway Inflammation as an Assessment of Chronic Nonproductive Cough.”
Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology: “Effects of Ginger and Its Constituents on Airway Smooth Muscle Relaxation and Calcium Regulation.”
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: “Humidifiers and Indoor Allergies.”
Mayo Clinic: “Sore Throat.”
Urologic Nursing Journal: “Conventional and Alternative Medical Advice for Cold and Flu Prevention: What Should Be Recommended and What Should Be Avoided?”
Thorax: “Pro-Inflammatory Effects of E-Cigarette Vapour Condensate on Human Alveolar Macrophages.”
American Family Physician: “Saline Nasal Irrigation for Upper Respiratory Conditions.”
Breathing & Phlegm
Cough. It is your body's wisdom for expelling dangerous build-ups of mucus. Take a deep breath before each cough to make each cough more forceful. Lay on your bed with your upper body hanging over the edge so your head is near the floor and cough. This helps gravity drain the bases of your lungs.
Drink plenty of liquids to make mucus watery enough to clear easily. Hot chicken soup really works, according to Mayo Clinic physicians.
The Wim Hof Method has the support of Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop. But don't hold that against it.
The sidewalk is filled with ski bros, firefighters, Goop enthusiasts, and people who told me they were there to relieve their chronic pain. The air's a brisk 36 degrees, and there's a light drizzle, yet we’re stripped down to swimsuits, chatting nervously. We're waiting for our turn in the tub. It's the last place I thought I’d be on Super Bowl Sunday.
This is the world of Wim Hof, a trendy movement that prompts people around the world to take an ice bath or cold plunge in the dead of winter. Its creator is a Dutch 60-year-old extreme athlete known as the "Iceman." His method is a combination of breathing, meditation, and cold exposure, and it will make you "happy, strong, and healthy." Or at least, that's the promise.
“The cold sounds very severe and very merciless, but it is very righteous as well," Hof tells me. "It takes away the shit within and leaves who you are and what you are within your control."
Everyone is able to plunge into the cold, Hof says — men, women, children. His oldest participant is 98 years old. She seems to love it.
The Wim Hof Method aims to relieve people’s 21st-century woes, treat their trauma, and help combat disease. Many Hof enthusiasts practice the method with religious devotion.
But the science supporting the miraculous claims is scant, and the method doesn't come without risks.
I set out to explore whether the practice — which asks participants to throw out conventions of comfort and face their fears — is overhyped or restorative. I became a temporary "Hoffer."
Let it go
Four hours before the sidewalk ice bath, I walked into a dimly lit CrossFit gym along with 30 other participants and checked into the Wim Hof workshop. This course cost $120, but they range between $89 and $150 (I attended as press, so I went for free). After checking in and signing liability forms, I found a spot on the floor. To prep for the course, I was advised to check out a free app with guided tutorials and background information, as well as mini workshops on YouTube.
“Thank you for all being here with us — and thanks, Gwyneth,” Michael Christoforo, the workshop’s leader and Wim Hof instructor, said to the group, laughing.
Paltrow's influence on the decision to attend a Wim Hof workshop is real. About one-third of this workshop's participants learned about the method on an episode of her new show, The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow, which debuted in late January on Netflix. In Episode 2, "Cold Comfort," Goop staffers swim the freezing waters of Lake Tahoe, guided by Hof. (Goop did not respond to multiple inquiries via email.)
Other participants said they came because they had seen a 2015 Vice documentary on the method. And some still were impressed by Hof’s 26 Guinness World Records. But some members of the group brought pressing health issues into the room. One participant was dealing with severe endometriosis and multiple surgeries. Another felt debilitating fatigue from an autoimmune disorder. Many were recovering from injuries or surgery, looking to relieve inflammation and pain.
Everyone, it seemed, hoped to absorb a bit of Hof’s magnetic energy and healthful vitality — even if, physically, he wasn't going to join us there. "Good luck with that," Christoforo says.The man's spectacular ability to withstand extreme cold is the result of decades of physical and mental conditioning. The "average joe" isn't likely to become an "Iceman" after a weekend workshop.
Before the cold
Before he was the “Iceman,” the subject of TV segments and celebrities, Hof was a teenager on a "soul search," exploring various esoteric and spiritual disciplines, he tells me. At 17, he jumped into an Amsterdam canal, a decision that developed into swimming in frigid lakes and rivers around Holland.
“I stumbled upon the cold, and the cold was deeply effective directly," Hof explains. "It brought me into a deep connection with myself, and I began to use it every day, every winter. I was training for, like, 25 years until the television found me.”
Hof has also faced rattling losses. In 1995, his wife committed suicide. Suddenly, he was a single father raising four children. Wim continued to venture into the cold, regardless of the weather or season.
Enahm Hof, Wim’s son and manager, says the cold, along with meditation and specialized breathing techniques, helped his father pull through his grief.
"For him, it was a way to feel again," Enahm explained over the phone. "When you're lost, you become numb, and for him to feel alive again, he did these challenges. When he came back from his cold dips, shivering, it was like a refresh."
Hof senior went on to achieve remarkable physical feats. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts without taking the typical time to acclimatize, ran a half marathon above the Arctic Circle — with bare feet — and sat submerged in ice for a record 113 minutes.
Until a decade ago, Wim was just the "Iceman," a circus act who put on tricks that garnered the world's attention, Enahm says. Around that time, Wim was 35,000 Euros in debt and fresh off the end of his second marriage.
Enahm saw an opportunity. He helped Wim put his training regimen on paper to show regular people that they too could conquer the fear and pain of the cold with intention and commitment. Now, Innerfire, the organization that Enahm manages, broadcasts Wim's unconventional method on full blast.
Hof finds that if he breathes deeply in the water or at the top of a mountain, he can endure the elements and become more resilient to the pressures of life. Nature naturally alleviates stress, Hof tells me, a statement backed up by robust scientific research.
But people no longer live in nature, Hof explains. Thus, the stress of life — from deadlines, divorces, traffic, money, children, the mortgage — builds up over time.
Hof believes his method can combat the "biological stress" that accumulates in cells. Indeed, research shows stress does screw with genetic expression, cellular function, and mitochondrial function. But, for now, science can't back up Hof's method, that it keeps stress from "messing with DNA." Regardless, he claims that with his help, "you can learn how to reset your cell's biology in a natural way."
His method hinges on the idea that you can train your body to cope with stress more effectively. As people are exposed to environmental stress and learn to manipulate their responses, the next time they encounter threats, they will have a more manageable reaction, Hof explains. It’s about giving people a sense of control.
The Wim Hof Method’s approach mimics the tested strategy of exposure therapy, a psychological treatment designed to help people confront their fears. But unlike exposure therapy, "Hoffers" can try the method whenever they please, without supervision, on the free app.
When I spoke to Hof by phone, he was in the mountains of Poland teaching 100 people his method. He claims that, during training, you see people's traumas, inhibitions, and fears come to the surface.
“They begin to understand that we have a deeper potential," Hof says.
Like many internationally known "gurus," Hof employs powerful language to describe the way his method changes lives. But Enahm is careful to note that the Wim Hof Method is not a magical solution.
"That does not exist," Enahm says. "It’s not some secret holy miracle cure."
Enahm isn’t a die-hard “Hoffer.” He takes cold swims and showers and practices intentional breathing but doesn’t follow the tenets of the method explicitly.
"I grew up with it. My dad was a lunatic. I was ashamed of it, and then I helped build this out," Enahm tells me. "But it's my dad, and if I also start to practice what he's preaching, I'm putting feathers in his ass. I need to get him down with both feet on the ground."
How does the Wim Hof Method work?
The Wim Hof Method is straightforward, but it’s not easy. To become a “Hoffer,” you conduct a cycle of deep breaths (about 30 to 40) interspersed with exhales where you "let it go" (i.e., you release breath without forcing it).
After the last exhale, you inhale a final time — as deep as you can — and let it out. You stop breathing until you feel the strong sensation that it's time to begin breathing again. Then you breathe in, hold the inhale for about 15 seconds, and then start breathing regularly again. That's one round. Instructors advise people to practice three to four rounds each day, ideally before breakfast and away from the cold. The whole process requires intense concentration, which some consider a form of meditation.
Researchers studying the method describe the breathwork as cyclic hyperventilation, followed by breath-holding. The process can stir up odd sensations throughout the body including light-headedness and unexpected emotional responses, according to "Hoffers."
People cry, they shake they lose feeling in their hands. They can also experience a sense of euphoria and peace on the other side of these side effects, possibly due to the release of serotonin and dopamine after the somewhat stressful breathing techniques.
Hyperventilation, even when "controlled," can also induce respiratory alkalosis, a process that raises the blood's pH and reduces CO2 levels. This process can make people dizzy, confused, or feel chest discomfort. In rare cases, people can faint or have seizures.
After practicing the breathing, "Hoffers" are encouraged to take a cold shower or cold plunge, turning the temperature down for 30 seconds or immersing themselves in a cold body of water. In the cold, you focus on controlling your breath (not in the same way as the breathing cycles, which can cause you to faint or pass out). You're supposed to focus on extending your exhales, managing your body’s fight-or-flight response, and breathing through the pain.
“The experience puts you in touch with how fear is a real optimizing tool when used properly,” Christoforo, my group’s instructor, tells me. Just by looking at an ice bath or frigid pond, people get cold and scared.
“It's a fearful thing. You're about to go through something that you cannot hide from, where the only way to get through it is to sit with it and breathe through it. It's like a metaphor. It does something to you. But what's on the other side of that is something remarkable.”
Plunging into ice water isn’t without its risks. Research indicates that the action triggers an acute stress response, often causing people to take a huge gasp. Out in nature, it's a response that can cause a person to drown.
The risks: Cold water immersion also induces vasoconstriction, which is when blood vessels narrow and the heart has to work harder to pump blood to vital organs. Some people can also go into immediate “cold shock,” experiencing heart arrhythmias, even in young and healthy individuals. There is also a risk of non-freezing cold injury causing lasting pain and cold sensitivity from just a short stint in the water. Staying in the water for longer than 30 minutes makes the risk of hypothermia, and even death, skyrocket.
But under careful guidance, in safe settings, and with concentrated breathing, people can control the initial stress response and learn to tolerate the painful conditions for a few minutes, as seen in the Sunday Wim Hof Method workshop.
In the workshop, when I tried the breath work — in turn filling my belly with air and then abruptly letting it out — I felt my fingers and toes start to tingle. I felt my right knee pulse with pain and my anxiety spike. After three initial rounds, and a long hold, I ultimately felt a wave of calm — just as promised.
An hour later, Christoforo led me through the ice bath. Heart pounding, toes going numb, I let out one last exhale and lowered into the ice, feeling my muscles tighten and my body shiver. My breath sped up as I tried to quell the impulse to get the hell out of the water. After about 40 seconds, I managed to slow my breath and suddenly felt the pain subside. I almost felt warm. A minute later, I was done.
Another participant, a 56-year-old training for a triathlon, said the ice bath was “amazing,” despite the cold.
“About 30 seconds in, everything in my being was like, ‘Get out!’" he relayed. "But I was like, ‘Okay, just ignore that.’ I just kept breathing and I really went deep. I've never felt so alive.”
A human experiment
The benefits: The Wim Hof Method website lists a myriad of health benefits derived from the practice, mostly based on anecdotal reports from users. "Hoffers" tie the method to improving symptoms of everything from asthma to depression to fibromyalgia. But the research on these purported benefits is extremely weak.
“I go through science, but science is also as fast as a slow turtle,” Hof says.
What the limited evidence does suggest is that the breathing technique, meditation, and cold immersion enable people to voluntarily influence the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and immune system, previously thought out of reach of the conscious mind.
The ANS governs basic bodily functions like hunger, heart rate, and metabolism. The immune system attacks perceived invaders (like viruses and pathogens) in the body. Both operate without conscious thought.
What the research says: Case studies suggest Wim can voluntarily manipulate these systems, modulate his stress response, and even regulate his body temperature.
In a 2018 case study, published in the journal Neuroimage, scientists analyzed Wim's brain activity during conditions of mild hypothermia. They found that the Wim Hof Method breathing activated cortical regions in his brain associated with self-reflection and internal focus. During the breathwork, one area of the brain called the periaqueductal gray also showed boosted activity. This finding is especially interesting, as the periaqueductal gray is associated with the endocannabinoid system — the body's built-in "pain killer" system.
In a 2012 case study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, scientists analyzed whether Hof could influence his ANS and immune system through his breathing and meditation technique.
The team put Wim through 80 minutes of full-body ice immersion and injected him with the endotoxin E. coli. When most people are put under these kinds of physiological stressors, their inflammatory response goes into overdrive and they experience debilitating symptoms — but not Hof. He showed increased levels of catecholamines (neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and epinephrine) in his blood, spiked cortisol, and he didn’t experience the typical symptoms associated with fighting E. coli.
The study suggests he had a suppressed immune response and controlled stress response, and more efficiently combatted the endotoxin.
Next, scientists sought to determine if Wim was a “freak of nature” or if the method made a difference in people without years of cold exposure or breathwork training. In 2014, a research team split a group of 24 healthy volunteers, assigning half to learn the Wim Hof Method for 10 days or do nothing. Then, they injected both groups with the same endotoxin — a strand of E. coli — and analyzed their physiological response.
The Wim Hof group produced more epinephrine and anti-inflammatory cytokines in response to the injection, a sign that their immune system was being voluntarily influenced. The group also experienced reduced flu-like symptoms compared to the control group. They published their study in the journal PNAS.
A 2019 study, published in the journal Plos One, suggests the Wim Hof Method was effective as add-on therapy to standard treatment for axial spondyloarthritis, which causes chronic rheumatic inflammation of the spine. In the study, the method, used over the course of eight weeks, helped reduce inflammation and improve the quality of life of 13 patients with the painful disease. Meanwhile, the 11 study subjects who did not practice the method didn't experience the same results.
Taken together, this body of research (however limited) signals that the mind has more control than previously thought. But more randomized controlled trials are needed to back up some of the so-called “miracle claims” that are often tied to the Wim Hof Method. All the studies so far have included relatively small populations, so any general conclusions are limited.
“Science is sometimes a little bit behind, but we have to understand how the body works before we can safely give advice," Cas Fuchs, a cold water immersion researcher from Maastricht University, tells Inverse. "If we just find something that works for one person and tell everybody to do it, that's too dangerous."
Different people can react completely differently, Fuchs points out. Before researchers can feel confident putting out safe general guidelines to people, there has to be more research that evaluates how the body responds to the cold.
And even if some benefit is proven, it doesn’t mean the Wim Hof Method is appropriate for everyone. Even Christoforo notes that it isn't safe for pregnant women, people with heart conditions, Raynaud's syndrome, or epilepsy.
“I would definitely say if you have any condition, whether it's a heart condition or something else, I would really be very careful with those kinds of things,” Fuchs advises. He recommends that before anyone tries these techniques, they talk to their general physician about whether or not it is right for them.
Creating the future
For Hof, the thousands of Wim Hof Method enthusiasts are proof enough of the mental and physical benefits.
Hof champions the alleged mental health benefits and travels around the world to teach, and speak to, people who suffer from severe anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. He claims he can help people in one day because the method can give them "an absolute sense of self-control."
But right now, Hof's claim is an anecdotal theory, not rigorously tested scientific evidence. In one 2018 case study, a woman relieved her symptoms of depression through consistent open, cold water swimming. But she did not incorporate the other aspects of the Wim Hof Method, excluding the breathing and meditation techniques.
Hof is a "believer" — and as Enahm puts it, science is lagging behind. He says there are eight studies currently in progress aiming to determine how the method impacts the mind and body. At this stage, there's no scientific evidence supporting claims that the method treats cancer, neurodegenerative disease, or other serious medical issues.
Before you go out and try his father's method, Enahm offers this advice: Investigate what's right for you before you try it instead of "following something because your neighbor or your friend is doing it."
In a world saturated in pseudoscience, the Wim Hof Method seems to straddle the line between promising medical treatment and evangelical snake oil. Personally, I've found that the mental health benefits of the method are clearer than the physical ones. Learning to overcome a basic fear — that of the very cold — left me and other workshop-goers feeling empowered. But ultimately, in the realm of health, there are no magic bullets, Christoforo says.
"There's no panacea," Christoforo says. "The Wim Hof Method is such a powerful tool, but you know, no one single thing is ever 'it.' It’s a combo platter.”
Risks and Side Effects of Hydrotherapy:
Invasive hydrotherapy techniques like douching, colonic irrigation and enemas and are not well accepted because these internal cleansing techniques can actually cause harm to an individual by upsetting the natural balance of the digestive tract and the vagina.
Hydrotherapy can also put on a risk of allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis for some patients using essential herbs and oils in their bath water.
Overheating is the most likely side effect of hydrotherapy, which can be very harmful. This may occur when an individual spends too much time in a hot tub or Jacuzzi.
Hair Growth Phases
Hair growth takes place in three distinct phases. Anagen is the initial phase, when hair actively grows for two to eight years. The length of anagen determines how long hair can grow, from a maximum of a foot or so to well over four feet. Following anagen, the hair follicle recedes for two to four weeks during the transitional catagen phase. The resting phase of telogen follows for two to four months. During telogen, the hair does not grow, but it remains attached to the follicle. Finally, anagen can begin again, and the growth process pushes out the old hair. This process leads the average person to lose 50 to 100 hairs every month, often in the shower or while brushing hair.
Wim Hof: The Iceman on Breathwork, Ice Baths, and How to Reset and Control Your Immune System
A pioneer and somewhat of a daredevil, Wim Hof needs no introduction anymore. A household name among the fitness and wellness enthusiasts, The Iceman is now teaching his transformational Wim Hof Method all over the world.
Wim Hof has set numerous Guinness World Records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and currently still holds the World Record for a barefoot half-marathon on snow and ice.
Photo: Courtesy of Innerfire BV
The 60-year old Dutchman is also known for climbing Mount Everest in nothing but a pair of shorts, running across the Namibian desert at 40°C without drinking any water, and running a marathon in the Arctic circle at -20°C, again in his swimmers without any prior training.
The cold became his friend when he was still a teenager, but later he again found solace in the cold when his first wife committed suicide and he was left to raise four children on his own. He went on to combine breathing exercises and ice baths and coined them the Wim Hof Method, which he has perfected over numerous years and now teaches all over the world.
We sat down with Wim Hof to discuss his mission in life, what he does with sceptics and how we can all unlock our unlimited power.
YOU HOLD 26 WORLD RECORDS, SUCH AS REMAINING IN ICE FOR 1 HR 52 MINUTES. YOU’VE CLIMBED MOUNT EVEREST IN NOTHING BUT YOUR SHORTS. HOW DID IT ALL START?
Everybody has a connection within, a desire to fight and discover the depths of your being. I soul searched early on in life, and I began to look into a lot of books, esoteric books. I also did a lot of yoga, karate, meditation and running. At the age of 17 I eventually found a deeper connection, not through those disciplines, but when I found the cold. Swimming in cold water was just able to bring me right back into the depth of my physiology, more than any of those disciplines were able to do. So I got hooked on the cold, and to use it to get into this deep connection with my mind and my body. From there on, I trained on my own for 25 years. Naturally, I explored more and more aspects, led by my own instincts, and it was like celebrating the power of the mind and the body. At the time, everybody said I was crazy to bathe in cold water. Everyone thought I was out of my mind. But it was the opposite, I was deep into my mind!
So I was silent about it. I kept my discipline to myself, and I trained every day for 25 years. One day the newspaper came and they published an article about me. They couldn’t believe what I was telling them, and many other interviews and articles followed.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST GUINNESS WORLD RECORD.
In March 2000, Guinness World Records came to challenge me in the cold. I set the Guinness World Record for the farthest swim under ice.
YOU SAY THAT THE COLD IS YOUR ONLY MASTER, YOUR ONLY TEACHER. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE COLD THAT IS SO HEALING?
The cold brings back our cardiovascular system to its original condition, where the mind-body connection is being reset. Our will has a direct influence on our vascular system, which could wrap around the planet 2.5 times, it’s so long! Once our will is in control of it, we are able to “connect” with any part of our body. Once we have an inborn connection with our cardiovascular system, we’re able to “travel” within and influence that system. We can reach any part in our body and heal it. If we have pain somewhere in the body, that is a signal for the mind to do something about it. But most of us are disconnected from the vascular system. So if you continue to take cold showers, you learn to bring it back to its natural condition. And then you have power (the way nature intended it) over your own vascular system (2.5 times around the world, in your body).
Besides that, our skin is the biggest organ, and the best skin care is taking cold showers.
Photo: Courtesy of Innerfire BV
THE WIM HOF METHOD ALSO INCLUDES BREATHWORK. WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF THAT?
Our breathing has become very shallow. So with the kind of breathing we do with the Wim Hof Method, we’re able to deeply change the chemistry of our body. It has been shown through science. Breathing helps to alkalize the blood, and that is very good for the nervous system, because alkalinity makes the electricity in the blood work more efficiently. We’re like alchemists, we change the chemistry of the body, and bring “light” into it. Breathing deeper also feeds into the cells’ biology. We are able to alkalize our blood within 20 minutes.
The breath knows how to go deeper than the mind
WHEN DID YOU START TO BRING SCIENCE INTO YOUR EXPERIMENTS?
I set so many records, that the scientific world began to see what I was doing, and they said, “What this man is doing is physiologically and scientifically not possible. But he’s doing it!”
We ended up doing several experiments together, and they found out that I was able to do things that they thought were impossible. I was able to tap into the autonomic nervous system, as well as the immune and hormonal systems. All those systems were considered to be autonomous, but I managed to deeply tap into them.
So we did this experiment, where they injected thousands of people with a bacteria. We were trying to find ways to naturally fend off and activate the defence mechanism against this bacteria, and preventing it from entering the system. So they tested this on me. They injected the bacteria, and I was able to do what all these people couldn’t do, which was for my body to have control over the bacteria within 15 minutes.
After the experiment they said, “Well, you can do this because you’re The Iceman. You’re a superhuman,” and I said, “No, everyone is able to do this. Let me train people in a competitive study.” They then asked me how long it would take for people to get even close to my results – one year, two years? And I replied, “Ten days!”
It took me four days. They were injected with the bacteria, and it took me four days until they all showed the same thing. They were able to deeply influence the autonomic nervous system and the immune system, and the bacteria had no or very little reaction on the immune system.
This was never done before. It changed the books in the universities all over the world. We have much more control than we think. But we have to expose the body to the natural elements, such as cold and heat, and take it out of its comfort zone. It’s positive stress. It makes the body and mind work.
CAN WE DO ANY OF THIS AT HOME? AND HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR A WORKSHOP WITH YOU?
Yes you can. Take cold showers every day. You begin with 40 seconds. Then you go up to two minutes. You can have a warm shower for 10 minutes after that. But in order to make the body work, you have to take cold showers. This is how it works.
Photo: Courtesy of Innerfire BV
SO WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS TO OUR BODY WHEN WE’RE EXPOSED TO EXTREME COLD CONDITIONS?
The adrenaline goes up as we’re exposed to the cold, and the adrenaline awakens the body. It peaks, and then it brings the cortisol right down.
Our chronic diseases are caused by oxidative stress, and the continuous presence of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. The controlled adrenaline rush in our body during a cold shower brings the cortisol right back down after the experience.
Cortisol is a big problem in modern society because we have a lot of stress, and it doesn’t go away, because we keep on going. Our mind says, “Oh I have to do this! I have to do that. and that!…and that!” The cortisol won’t stop.
So when you take a cold shower, the fight or flight system breaks down, as the adrenaline will shoot up and drop back down. And all the stress hormones go down with the adrenaline.
It’s very simple. You will feel a lot better, much more tranquil. You will go from sympathetic nervous system activity to parasympathetic nervous system activity, which is the system that’s activated when you’re resting and digesting.
You will be reconnected with the depth of your own body and mind
YOU OFTEN SPEAK ABOUT THE HUMAN POTENTIAL AND UNTAPPED POWER. YOU EVEN SAY THAT THIS COULD BE THE CAUSE OF DEPRESSION, AND HOW THIS CAN MAKE US SICK IF WE’RE NOT LIVING OUR FULL POTENTIAL.
According to studies, the brain is now showing that it has the capacity to rule the body. Inflammation shows up in the body first, and then it gets into the brain through the blood-brain barrier. And then it creates imbalance in the hormones, affecting serotonin and dopamine production. But we are able to bring inflammation down just by using our mind.
Normally, when exposed to the cold, the skin temperature goes down. But in the studies we’ve done, I was able to keep the same skin temperature just by using my mind. That’s the potential everyone has to use the power of the mind to take charge of your stress. We can regulate our mood through our thoughts, and can therefore utilise our thoughts to get rid of stress.
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU’RE WORKING WITH YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM? HOW DO YOU PROGRAM YOUR MIND TO BE STRONGER THAN YOUR BODY?
To utilise the power of the mind, you have to exclude your mind from the world. Where are you with your mind? Are you thoughts with your work, your partner, or your dog? Where are you? The mind is an entity, a reality. Bring the mind here, and exclude any distractions.
You have the power of the mind right here. It’s not over there, it’s here. So you set the intention. For my one-week “Power of the Mind” course I have eight steps / exercises. We’re launching it this month! I get people to connect with their body through the power of the mind, and I get them to do things they thought were impossible. I do this in one week, and they go through eight challenges. One of them is to stay in an ice bath for 20 minutes. You’re exercising the power of your mind during these 20 minutes.
But it’s not about the exercises, it’s about the power of your mind. Throughout your daily life, you will then be able to choose this for any other goal you may have. And with that comes the easiness, and the simplicity of your mind tackling depression, anxiety, trauma, fear, PTSD, and any other mental disorders you can rebalance.
Photo: Courtesy of Innerfire BV
WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU’RE FEARLESS?
I have absolutely no fear. It’s like there’s a car coming and my baby is on the street. I do not fear the car, I go for my baby. I go for my goal. I go for my soul. I want to live, and not live in fear. I do not fear anything. I fear not to live. I want to live 100%. If you live 100%, there is no fear. If you are in love with someone, you have no fear, you go. You use your mind and you move straight towards your goal. It’s a state of mind, and we can have this with anything.
But most of us have never learnt how to use our mind. We can shoot people to the moon, but we don’t have solutions for mental disorders? We can master mathematics, languages, history, and how to make money, but not how to balance ourselves and become happy. That’s ridiculous! All of us should be happy every day. We should be in control of our mood and our beautiful mind.
We have to bring it back to the power of the mind, the way nature intended it. We all have this power to transform ourselves and to experience happiness.
YOU SINGLEHANDEDLY RAISED YOUR FIRST FOUR CHILDREN WHEN YOUR WIFE PASSED AWAY. HOW DID THAT SHAPE THE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY AND WHAT YOU ARE TEACHING?
Certainly. I had to find a way to feel good and to heal my broken heart. I had to find a way to function again. So the cold really healed me. When you are heartbroken you constantly worry and you’re sad. When you go into the cold, you cannot think. You have to be. You learn to be, to be the best version of yourself. To survive in the cold helped me heal and to stop my worries, the sadness, the depression, the emotional pain. The cold and breathing helped me gain a lot of energy, and it made me very happy.
But of course I also had to work through the pain and the lost relationship I had with the mother of my four children.
WHAT’S YOUR #1 ADVICE?
That we are able to change. It’s all for the greater good, for all living beings. That includes trees, animals, everything…except for mosquitoes [laughs].
YOU’VE INSPIRED THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ACROSS THE WORLD. WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
My children. I have six children, and my youngest one is two.
I want to show people that we are able to control our mood, our happiness, and our strength. We are working with the best researchers in the world to showcase this.
DO ALL OF YOUR CHILDREN APPLY YOUR METHODS?
They work with me every day. They are all part of the company.
YOU ALSO HAVE A TWIN BROTHER. IS HE INTO THIS?
Now he is. But before he wasn’t. Before he wasn’t able to do what I do, but as you can see now, training enables anyone to do it too.
Photo: Courtesy of Innefire BV
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO SCEPTICS?
I just go through science. You can be sceptical, but it’s stupid, because science is science. There is no speculation. It is only your choice to be sceptical. Fact is fact. Being critical is good, but to stay a sceptic is nonsense.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AND DREAMS? WHERE DO YOU WANT TO TAKE THE WIM HOF METHOD?
I want to show everyone in this world that the soul is the source of our happiness, strength and health. Love actually comes from the soul, from the light. My view is a bit hippie [laughs], and that’s why I show through science that we’re able to master our own mind and body in order to become happy, strong and healthy. I want everybody to get the opportunity and the choice (without dogma) to be happy and healthy, and to showcase it through scientific research.
WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE?
In want to stop war, and I want to stop disease. A lot of people think that’s crazy, because they think it’s normal that we have these issues.
With all the research we’ve been doing, they can’t say that I’m crazy anymore. We as a species have unlimited power of our mind. We can make anything happen. I think it is time we stand up and facilitate the change to make people happy, strong, healthy and enable them to live in harmony with nature. We have to create a future for humanity and all living beings.
DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO?
We are built to be happy, strong and healthy. I fear not to live. We have everything to live up to our dreams. You have everything to achieve that, and in a very short period of time you can get all the tools to manifest who you want to be.
Wim Hof hosts retreats and workshops all over the world, as well as a 10-week online course.
48 Easy But Effective Home Remedies For Stress Relief
1. Epsom Salt
When it comes to home remedies for stress, Epsom salt is a great ingredient which is useful and effective in calming you down when you have stress. Basically, stress will lead to low magnesium levels within the body and boost the adrenaline levels. Thus, using Epsom salt which is rich in magnesium will increase the mood-boosting serotonin chemical within your brain. In turn, this helps reduce stress levels, promote relaxation and relieve irritability, anxiety, abnormal heart rates and insomnia. What you have to do to relieve stress using Epsom salt is:
– Take a cup of Epsom salt and several drops of your chosen aromatic essential oil to add into the warm bathwater
– After stirring them thoroughly, you soak yourself in this solution for 20 minutes
– Enjoy this solution twice or thrice per week
2. Chamomile Tea
This is an effective herb among many home remedies for stress relief. Thanks to its soothing and calming nature, chamomile tea could positively impact the central nervous system, helping relax muscles and ease anxiety while still promoting better sleep.
– Drink no more than 4 cups of chamomile tea per day to help defeat stress. The tea can be made by adding 2 teaspoons of dried chamomile into a cup of the hot water. After covering and steeping it for about 10 minutes, you strain it up and add raw honey into. Drink it and see how different chamomile tea your mood is after that.
– As an alternative, you can mix fresh chamomile flowers with several drops of chamomile essential oil and add them to the warm bathwater for a relaxing soak.
– Also, you could take advantage of this herb in the supplement form. However, get the advice from your doctor for proper dosage.
Other solution for those who are looking for best home remedies for stress relief is ashwagandha, which is also known as Indian ginseng. Being an effective herb for stress, it can reduce stress and anxiety by lowering the levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone. Also, it improves the resistance to anxiety and stress, helping improve the life quality.
Additionally, according to a study published in India in 2012, it was found that ashwagandha root is very good at strengthening the human nervous system, boosting energy and fighting tiredness and fatigue while improving the quality of sleep.
This herb is available in the market in different forms, dried root, fresh root, powdered form or supplement form. It is recommended to take the dose of 1-2 grams of the dried or fresh root boiled in 1 cup of water or milk, drink it thrice per day. If you choose to take supplement form, you should consult a doctor first.
Warning: Children and pregnant women should not take this herb.
4. Holy Basil
Another great Ayurvedic herb which works as a good natural anti-stress agent is Holy basil. Holy basil, an adaptogenic herb can enhance the natural response of the human body to both physical and emotional stress. Moreover, it can help the human body function appropriately during stress.
It is proven that holy basil can protect against chronic restraint stress-induced stress, via its effect.
– You just need to chew from 10 to 12 fresh holy basil leaves 2 times per day
– Or, drink a cup of basil tea to decrease stress. In order to make this tea, you should put 1 tablespoon of the fresh leaves of basil in a cup of boiling water. Then, cover and let it steep for 5 minutes before straining it up. Sip the tea steadily.
5. Green Tea
Green tea, one of commonly used home remedies for stress, has L-theanine, which is an amino acid promoting the alpha brain waves, thereby reducing stress, encouraging relaxation and improving mental alertness and focus.
Furthermore, it also contributes the development of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a neurotransmitter promoting relaxation. Take the following steps:
– Take 2 teaspoons of green tea leaves to add into 1 cup of hot water
– Cover the cup and let it steep for 5 minutes before straining it up
– If you want, add fresh lemon juice plus with organic honey into the solution
– Drink it twice or thrice per day to eliminate stress
One of effective home remedies for stress is passionflower. This herb could increase the levels of GABA within your brain, helping reduce the stress as well as anxiety along with panic attacks.
– Drink 1 cup of passionflower tea which is made from 1 tablespoon of dried herb added in 1 cup of hot water. After being steeped for 10 minutes, you can drink the tea when it is still warm.
– Passionflower is available in the form of liquid extract, tablet and tincture. You should consult your doctor before using any supplement because it might interact with some specific medications.
Warning: Small children and pregnant women should not take this herb.
In hops, there is a sedative compound – volatile oil which can be gotten in tinctures and extracts. Because they are bitter, so you may not see it in tea form, if it is not combined with mint or chamomile. Hops are usually used as a natural sedative, helping in improving sleep, often with valerian. But, you should not take sedative herbs when taking a prescription sedative or tranquilizer. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
Some supplements made from herbs can decrease anxiety without inducing sleepiness. But, valerian is not such supplements. It is a considered as a sleep aid, particularly for insomnia. Containing sedative compounds, this herb is approved to be a treatment for those with sleep problems.
The smell of valerian is rather nasty, so it is often taken in the tincture or capsule form, instead of tea. If you would like to try out it, then it is advised to take it in the evening, not before heading to your office. The herb is usually combined with some other sedative herbs like chamomile, hops or lemon balm.
9. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm has been commonly used at least since the Middle Ages in order to help reduce anxiety and stress, and promote sleep. According to a study of some healthy volunteers, people taking standardized lemon balm extracts (about 600mg) were more alert and calm than those who did not.
Whilst it is rather safe, be careful that if taken too much, it could make you much more anxious. Thus, follow strictly the instructions and begin with small dose. Sold as a tea, tincture and capsule, lemon balm is usually combined with other calming herbs like chamomile, hops or valerian.
10. B Vitamins
To find the best home remedies for stress relief, it is helpful to try out as many options as possible. One of the suggested ways to relieve stress that many people reported good results is taking B vitamins. The eight B vitamins, from B1 to B12, can boost the proper function of brain as well as nervous system, and induce relaxation while fighting fatigue and stress.
The deficiency of B vitamins within the human body could lead to depression, apathy, and irritability. Therefore, when you are stressed, consume more B vitamin- rich foods.
– Foods which are rich in B vitamins are whole grains, peanuts, beans, peas, spinach, blackstrap molasses, kale, bananas, potatoes, avocados, eggs, legumes and dairy products.
– Also, you could take these vitamins in supplement form. Consult your doctor before the kind of B vitamins that you own body needs.
It is proven that lavender’s aroma may have emotional anti-inflammatory properties which make us feel less anxious.
12. Eat Something Quick
Oftentimes, people get anxious and irritable when they get hungry. When an anxiety attack rises, it might mean that your blood sugar is reducing. That case, you should take a quick sustaining snack, such as walnuts, dark chocolate, plus with a glass of water or a cup of hot tea.
13. The 21-Minute Cure
You may wonder what 21-minute cure means when it comes to home remedies for stress relief, right? Actually, it is about how long it takes for common exercises to reliably decrease anxiety. If you get anxious and hop on the treadmill, you will become calmer after the workout.
That is why most exercises are planned during 20-30 minutes because that amount of time will get the heart rate up, whether it is stair stepping, a treadmill or elliptical, or something you like. But, if you are not ready to exercise, simply take brisk walks to alleviate stress symptoms.
According to a study, diet is the key to control stress in the long term. Blueberries with their high content of antioxidants are very powerful in reducing stress. Thanks to a lot of minerals such as magnesium and manganese, vitamin C and vitamin E, they could combat sleeplessness, depression and other mood problems if consumed every day.
Having a large amount of healthy nutrients, like vitamin A, B-vitamins, and vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, spinach can minimize the magnitude of stress-triggering hormones while normalizing the frame of our mind. Just simply taking a cup of boiled spinach each day could bestow calming and soothing effects to your body and supply required potential to your body to defeat stress and pressure.
Many studies have proven that fishes are considered the richest natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is one of them. Omega-3 fatty acids can fuel the human brain with serotonin – the happy chemical – which is good in managing stress hormones.
On the other hand, this type of cold water fish has anti-inflammatory compounds. Thus, experts recommend taking omega-3 fatty acids from food whenever possible. Other good choices alternating for salmon are sardines, anchovies, and mussels.
Almond is very familiar with us, but not many of us know that it is good for stress relief. Among home remedies for stress relief, almond not only helps in control stress symptoms but also furnish your own body with fibers. It is also rich in vitamin B and E, magnesium, zinc, and healthy oils.
18. Brown Rice
Nowadays, a large number of people prefer to consume brown rice because their abundance of B vitamins, which is beneficial in maintaining cells, tissues, and other vital organs in our bodies. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, B-vitamins also support the well-being of the brain strength, cardiac function, red blood cell health, and body resistance. If you consume a large amount of B-vitamins, it also assists your body and mind in having less strain and pressure.
Oatmeal is one of natural and safe home remedies for stress relief because it is jam packed with dietary fiber which can help the human body absorbs the oat a slow pace, thereby extending the increase of serotonin – a happiness-boosting hormone. Oat even supports the control of fluctuating sugar level.
Yogurt, one of dairy products, is rich in calcium. Calcium is good for both teeth and bones, not mention to keeping petulance aside. For those women with PMS trouble, yogurt also helps a lot. Similar dairy products offering the same benefits are cottage cheese and milk.
21. Whole Grain Bread
Another one in this list of home remedies for stress is whole grain bread which when being combined with honey or jam can prove you with a stress-relieving snack. Being a complex carbohydrate-rich food which elevates serotonin level, whole grain bread can relax and calm you down.
One of great but little-known home remedies for stress is soups. This stress-relieving food is nutritious and easy to digest. The vegetables in this soup even make it healthier.
A pastry, ice cream, pie or cake or any dessert could reduce the intensity of anxiety-producing hormones such as Glucocorticoid from having dangerous effect on the human brain, helping decreasing fretfulness and irritation.
Asparagus offers folic acid and stimulates the happy chemical named “Serotonin” to release, which helps people keep their mind mollified.
If you are looking for easy-to-find home remedies for stress relief, then coffee is exactly your answer. Sipping a hot cup of coffee can help you lessen the mood in just several minutes. Nonetheless, caffeinated beverages are not reckoned as good options for health, but if consumed in proper amount, it brings positive effects to your overall health. In fact, over-indulgence of anything is always not good. Besides, it is found that people drinking coffee twice per day seem to get less depressed.
Just a handful of walnut in a day can regulate the sporadic blood pressure troubles and keep your anxiety and fretfulness under control. You can use peanuts as an alternative.
This is an abundant source of essential nutrients, such as minerals, protein, fiber, vitamin C and E, healthy fat, and potassium. Those nutrients can keep the human brain cells moving and healthy. Also, this fruit is potent enough to reduce high blood pressure.
To be honest, exercise is a great solution for stress, but it should be moderate-intensity, aerobic or high-intensity exercise. It can decrease the stress hormones and boost feel-good hormones within your body. Furthermore, it also improves the mood as well as distracts you from worries and anxiety.
You could just dance, swim, play sports or even take a short walk. Or, practicing yoga can also help you fight off stress. Yoga, in reality, works as a good meditation, helping calm both your body and mind. Also, it improves your concentration and assists you in remaining clear and calm in everything you do. Yoga is widely used for stress reduction. It might help reduce stress hormone levels as well as blood pressure.
29. Deep Breathing
Slow and deep breathing could help you control stress. Deep breathing will make more oxygen enter your body, giving calming effects on your body and mind. It is estimated that 15 to 30 minutes of deep breathing can help prevent stress effectively.
Tips to perform deep breathing the right way:
– Sit or lie down in a comfortable, quiet place when you get stress
– Close the eyes, take a deep and slow breath via your nose to the count of 5
– Keep the breath for about 5 counts before exhaling for another 5 counts.
– Repeat this routine 5-6 times till you feel relaxed and calm down.
If you want to relieve stress while still improving your overall health, particularly mental health, then go for massage. According to experts in traditional Chinese medicine, massage can help open the blocked energy channels to decrease stress and boost overall health. The application of oil to the whole body at regular intervals can make the strain and stress wash out of your own system. For better results, you can mix a small amount of shankhpushpi or brahmi powder with your chosen oil for massage.
Just take advantage of warm oil massage of your hands, feet, back and head to improve circulation, fight anxiety and relax tense muscles.
Steps to prepare for a relaxing massage:
– Warm up your favorite oil
– Use warm oil to massage gently your forehead, shoulders, neck, back as well as bottom of the feet.
– Take a warm bath after that
– Repeat this routine daily to decrease stress
31. Stop Catastrophizing
When a person is attacked by stress and anxiety, it is very easy to sink in a mindset called as “catastrophic thinking” or “catastrophizing”. Rather than, taking a few deep and slow breaths, wander around your block will help you get rid the inducement of falling into catastrophizing.
32. Get Hot
Have you ever wondered why you feel very great and relaxed after steaming? Heating up the body will reduce anxiety and muscle tensions, according to many researches. The sensations of warmth might change neural circuits controlling mood, including the ones affecting neurotransmitter serotonin.
Actually, warming up is also considered as a way of exercising, which is proven to help boost mood. Grabbing several minutes in the spa or sauna after a hard working day, or sitting in a hot bath in the evening can give you a sense of relaxation as well as well-being.
33. Take Forest Bath
This sounds rather strange, but literally, forest bath means that you walk in the forest of woods. According to Japanese researchers, the stress hormone levels decreased in those people who walk in a beautiful forest with the sounds of running stream and woodsy smells. The same goes for those who walk in an urban area.
34. Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Also known as a mainstream therapy, mindfulness meditation is very effective in reducing anxiety. The practice of mindful awareness can help people experience the true essence of every moment as it truly happens, instead of what is feared, thought or expected.
How to start? Well, very simple. You could begin with “paying close attention to the current moment” with curiosity and non-judgment.
35. Breathe And Question
In order to stay mindful and relieve stress, you should ask yourself some questions whilst practicing some simple breathing exercises. What you need to do is:
– Sit in a relaxing, comfortable place with eyes closed
– Try to concentrate on how your breath feels when coming in and out of the body.
– Then, ask yourself some questions from within while still focusing on your breath.
Now, answer the following questions:
– How does the breath feel different when it leaves your own body?
– What is the air’s temperature when entering your nose?
– How does the air feel as it fills up your lungs?
36. Modify The Self-Talks In Your Head
Most people have silent dialogues with themselves daily and such self-talks can affect significant to our mood, particularly tension-triggering, negative ones. They paint us with a dark picture and offer us no good choices. More rational, positive self-talk, on the other hand, can inspire a lot. Irrational self-talks might be a long-term habit with you, so you should modify them little by little at a time. Consult a professional therapist if you need some help.
Laugh is a helpful way to reduce stress and improve mood. Humor can keep problems in proper perspective. The action of laughing leads to chemical changes within our body which elevates our sense of well-being. If you need some help when being depressed, watch an interesting television program or funny movie, or share enjoyable memories with old friends, or go to the cinema.
38. Organize Your Own Life
This sounds rather strange when it comes to home remedies for stress. But, believe me, if you do it, you will surprise at how different your mood is after that. Organization gives a sense of control as well as a peace of mind. In regard to this issue, there are a lot of ways you can do. If you always run around, then it can make you remember everything. Besides, if you always feel edgy in your own house, this act will help you be tidy up.
39. Limit The Use Of Internet And Cellphone
Yes, we are saying: disconnect. Overuse internet and cellphone is a problem that causes stress and depression. Therefore, by cutting off Internet and cellphones, we could block some channels which may stress us. Also, doing it can let us live in the real moment and appreciate it.
It is important to stop using such devices before going to sleep, which can also reduce insomnia-related issues.
Yes, this is a simple but effective option in regard to home remedies for stress. In reality, too much sleep can leave us depressed and sluggish while too little sleep leaves us irritable, cranky and on edge. That is why having a right amount of sleep can let us feel well-rested and actively ready for the whole day. Establish bedtime rituals to promote good sleep. Also, before going to sleep, take a warm bath. Apply a healthy diet can also contribute to improve your sleep quality. Certain foods could improve sleep like bananas, carbohydrates, peanuts, figs, turkey and dairy. Those foods contain the trytophans, which is a precursor for producing melatonin. Nonetheless, you should avoid consume a large meal before hitting the hay as it might lead to reflux, heartburn or indigestion.
In this list of home remedies for stress, decompress seems very simple. What you need to do is to place a warm heat wrap around your shoulders and neck for about 10 minutes. Then, close the eyes, relax your facial muscles, upper chest along with back muscles. After that, remove the wrap and make use of a tennis ball to throw away tension. Simply place the ball between the wall and your back. Then, lean into the ball and keep for gentle pressure for 15 seconds. Then, you move that ball to another spot, apply pressure.
42. Listen To Music
According to researches, listening to soothing music can help decrease blood pressure reduce heart rate as well as anxiety. You could create a playlist of natural sounds like a bubbling rock, the ocean, or bird chirping. This will help you mind focus on the different instruments, melodies, or singers in the piece.
43. Be Grateful
Keep a gratitude journal or some of it to help you remember the things you are good at. That will help alleviate your stress and increase your confidence.
In regard to home remedies for stress relief, this is a familiar but often overlooked shop. Writing might help to write about all things that are bothering you. Each day, take from 10 to 15 minutes per day about your stressful events and how they feel. Track your stress. This will help you know what is causing your stress and anxiety, and how much stress you feel. After that, you will find out the effective ways to cope with stress.
45. Express Your Feelings
Laugh, cry, talk, or express your anger when you feel your stress unbearable. Talking with family, friends, or a counselor is a healthy method to relieve anxiety and stress.
46. Do Something You Love
You might feel that you are too busy to do what you enjoy. However, making time to do the things you like could help you really relax. It may also help become successful in different others of your own life. You can try out a hobby like gardening, a certain creativity like art writing or crafts, playing with pets, or going to volunteer.
47. Chew Gum
Many studies have shown that the act of chewing gum could alleviate cortisol levels, thereby helping to lessen stress. Another reason why chewing gum is one of good home remedies for stress is that it causes brain waves that are similar to those of comfortable, relaxed people. Besides, chewing gum also enhances the blood flow to your brain.
48. Learn To Say No
To be honest, not every stress is within your control, but some of them are. Thus, take control over the parts causing your stress which you could change. One suggestion to do is learning to say “no” more often. This is particularly true when you find yourself taking more than you could really handle because covering many responsibilities could leave you feel stressed and overwhelmed.
Also, try to be selective about the things you are taking on. Say no to what do not necessarily add to your own load. This is a good start to taking control of your stress levels.
Well, you have learnt top 48 out of the best home remedies for stress relief introduced in our How To page. These are all easy-to-follow methods which do not cause any side effects.
When dealing with your stress, in case you are not sure if stress is the cause of your problems, or if you have taken the right steps to take control of your stress but stress symptoms still continue, then see a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will check for other potential causes. Or, you could find a chance to see a professional therapist or counselor, who could aid you in indentifying the root causes of your stress and learning new coping tools.
If you suffer from chest pain, particularly if it happens during physical activities, or is associated with sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, or pain in the shoulders and arm, then you should get an emergency help instantly. These might be warning signs of heart attacks or not simply just stress symptoms that you should pay close attention to.
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