An Extreme Method for Stress Management Pushes for the Mainstream | #teacher | #children | #kids



Sitting in a barrel chest-high in ice cubes seems more like torture than a birthday treat.

But not for

  Wim Hof.



   The eccentric Dutchman, who celebrated his 61st birthday last year by spending 61 minutes in ice, has gone from stuntman caricature to wellness guru during the pandemic.</p><div>






   <p>His techniques, combining hypoxic breathing with ice baths and cold showers, have been adopted by a cult following of extreme athletes and tech entrepreneurs. Scientists are studying his almost superhuman ability to eliminate fear and control his immune response. </p> <p>Now, a lot of regular people are taking his advice.</p> <p>Amanda Henry, a mother and sixth grade teacher in Sutter Creek, Calif., says the stress of distance learning pushed her into 5 a.m. cold showers and Wim Hof breathing. She says the practice helps her to keep her patience. If she finds a student annoying, she says, “I take a deep breath and tell myself, ‘I will be OK. I don’t have to have the stress response right now.’ ” 







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    <span class="l-qt article__inset__pullquote__mark--left">“</span>
    “We are mammals, but we’ve forgotten how to be mammals.”
    <span class="r-qt article__inset__pullquote__mark--right">”</span>
  </p>

    <small>
      <span class="inset-author article__inset__pullquote__author">— Wim Hof </span>
    </small>

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   The techniques have struck a chord during the coronavirus pandemic because they teach people how to tolerate extreme discomfort. “Challenging nature makes us strong and stimulates our deeper physiology,” Mr. Hof says. “We are mammals, but we’ve forgotten how to be mammals.” His advice to people who shudder at the thought of cold water: “Just do it once.”</p> <p>The techniques have serious risks. The Wim Hof Method website says the breathing can cause lightheadedness and loss of consciousness and the technique isn’t meant for people with certain medical conditions. Warnings on the site advise against the practice if you have epilepsy, heart disease or if pregnant or on a prescription for high blood pressure. It advises anyone with a serious medical condition to consult a doctor before attempting any of the techniques.</p> <p>For years, the Iceman, as Mr. Hof is called, gained publicity—and some ridicule—for daredevil feats such as sitting for hours on bare ice and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and part of Mt. Everest half naked. His ideas for a long time were considered fringe.</p> <p>But scientists increasingly are interested in his ability to survive dangerous conditions and to influence physiological responses thought to be involuntary, like immune system and inflammatory responses. 







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    <img   src="https://parentsecurityonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/im-311946" data-enlarge="https://images.wsj.net/im-311946?width=1260&amp;size=1.5" alt="" title="Wim Hof endured nearly two hours immersed in ice for a 2011 feat in Hong..."/></div>


  <figcaption class="wsj-article-caption article__inset__image__caption" itemprop="caption"><h4 class="wsj-article-caption-content">Wim Hof endured nearly two hours immersed in ice for a 2011 feat in Hong Kong.</h4>
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    Huang Shaokui/Color China Photos/ZUMA PRESS
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   In 2013, researchers at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that 12 people trained by Mr. Hof and then injected with E. coli had milder flulike symptoms than an untrained control group. In 2019, tests indicated a significant decrease in inflammation in 13 people suffering spinal arthritis over eight weeks of training in breathing, meditation and cold exposure, according to a proof-of-concept study published in the journal PLOS One. There was no effect in the control group, according to scientists at Radboud and Amsterdam UMC and University of Amsterdam. 













   Elissa Epel, a professor in the psychiatry department at the University of California, San Francisco, says Mr. Hof was exactly what she had been looking for after meeting him at a wellness conference. She had been searching for natural ways to cause short intermittent bouts of acute stress because they are believed to build a kind of stress resilience that might inoculate against chronic stress. “We’re very curious about the method,” she says.  </p> <p>Dr. Epel has two studies under way at UCSF, one on pandemic depression and one that compares the effects of high-arousal techniques like Mr. Hof’s to those of exercise and lower-intensity meditation. In May, she recruited Mr. Hof to teach his practices to healthcare providers in a virtual seminar on emotional well-being.</p> <p>Mr. Hof has been popular with so-called bio-hackers interested in pushing human physiology to the extreme and a regular on the podcast circuit. When Twitter Chief Executive 










  Jack Dorsey



   told podcast host Ben Greenfield two years ago that Mr. Hof is “someone I learned a lot from” and that he, too, takes cold showers and eats one meal a day, the comments went viral. Mr. Hof says he has visited Mr. Dorsey at his home and that they message each other. Twitter had no comment.







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    <img   src="https://parentsecurityonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/im-314077" data-enlarge="https://images.wsj.net/im-314077?width=1260&amp;size=1.5" alt="" title="Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, has said he has learned from Wim Hof."/></div>


  <figcaption class="wsj-article-caption article__inset__image__caption" itemprop="caption"><h4 class="wsj-article-caption-content">Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, has said he has learned from Wim Hof.</h4>
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    Cole Burston/Bloomberg
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