“How are you holding up,” is a question friends ask me every day, as the attacks on me are relentless and unlike those almost unseen of in the history of the world. I’m able to sustain this pace due to my belief in hard rest.
What is hard rest? Well let me tell you that I have tried “vegging out,” and that doesn’t work. When you do nothing, your body shuts down and blood doesn’t circulate throughout your body. In fact, my mindset of rest comes from the power lifting legacy of Louie Simmons, who discovered that you shouldn’t take a “day off” from lifting, and should prefer active recovery to lounging around. He learned that having his lifters come in on off days to high rep work improved their gains.
I thus never have a “day off.” Even when not working, I’m doing far infrared saunas, taking cold showers, doing meditative breathing, and performing mindfulness exercises.
Wim Hof breathing.
When you feel nervous, your breathing is shallow. A public speaking tip is to, “Remember to breathe.” Why do you have to remember do so something that’s involuntary?
The single biggest change I made to my life in the past few years was learning Wim Hof breathing.
I had taken cold showers and contrast showers for year before, but didn’t understand you could control your pace of breathing.
Your mood is largely regulated by a bunch of chemicals floating around your brain, and it’s not always possible to control these. Your heart rate, too, is largely outside of your control. You can control your breathing.
Cold water training.
What happens when you jump into a cool pool or get under a cold shower?
PANIC sets in. Your body tells you to get out.
Cold water is a metaphor for life.
When we get into a stressful social or professional situation, our survival instincts kick in. GET OUT, we are told, THIS IS BAD.
But those stressful situations are what lead to personal and spiritual growth.
Cold water training is a daily reminder that you won’t die from some stress, and when you learn how to control your breathing, you breathe into the cold.
Each day I prepared for battle with cold water training, because my body is conditioned to live not by fear.
Anxiety attack drill.
“We don’t rise to the occasion, we fall to our training,” is a quote attributed to several past and present figures, as is, “Drillers are killers.” Drilling refers to studied practice on a specific skill.
You can “drill” for an anxiety attack by undergoing extreme, near-panic inducing stress in a controlled environment. (Disclaimer: Never exercise unless under a doctor’s care.)
Anxiety attacks happen because people lose control of their breathing. How can you prepare for anxiety attacks?
Using a trap bar, I perform a set of dead lifts where I can do 7 reps comfortable, and 10 reps with some difficulty. From there I do 20 reps of trap bar dead lifts, pausing to take deep breaths in between.
Once you finish 20 reps, you’ll feel like you’re dying. Your heart rate will pulsate in your skull. Your gums will ache. You’ll want to lay down.
Instead of letting the natural exhaustion and fatigue processes take over, sit down and use the Wim Hof breathing techniques to take control of your breathing.
If you can control your rate of breathing while under extreme stress in controlled situations, you’ll be able to conquer anxiety attacks that hit you out in the real world.
Far infrared saunas
Traditional saunas use heat to increase your core body temperature, increasing the rate of perspiration. Far infrared saunas use rays of light that penetrate your skin.
Several studies have looked at using infrared saunas in the treatment of chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, headache, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, and found some evidence of benefit.
You can read those studies over at PubMed, which collects scientific research.
The best sauna in the world
The Russian and Turkish Baths in New York is the best spa I’ve ever been to.
Because it’s existed for over 125 years, they are able to run their saunas hotter than anywhere else.
They also have a cold plunge pool. On some days the water is so cold that my legs go numb.
Alternate from the hot room and cold plunge.
Supplements for Health and anti-Stress
Anxiety is caused by oxidative stress.
In 2005, Hovatta et al. identified a close relationship between antioxidative defense mechanisms and anxiety-related phenotypes in six inbred mouse strains. They found that, in the brain, the expression of glutathione reductase and glyoxalase, which are genes involved in antioxidative metabolism, is highly correlated with anxiety-related phenotypes. Furthermore, they also found that the activity of these enzymes is highest in the most anxious mice and lowest in the least anxious strains. These authors were the first to demonstrate a link between oxidative stress metabolic pathways and normal anxiety.
N-acetyl cysteine (N-A-C) is an inexpensive over-the-counter supplement that is proven to reduce oxidative stress:
Glutathione depletion and concomitant increase in oxidative and neurological stress and mitochondrial dysfunctions play a role in the pathophysiology of diverse neuroimmune disorders, including depression, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and Parkinson’s disease, suggesting that depleted GSH is an integral part of these diseases.”
You can buy N-acetyl cysteine (N-A-C) at Amazon, Whole Foods, or any other store. I use Jarrow brand.
There is nothing cool or tough about neglecting your sleep.
I’ll be publishing a complete guide to sleep in soon.
In the meantime, the most effective sleep aid is Gorilla Dream.
Gorilla Dream includes more of what works.
People experiences deeper sleep, more vivid dreams, and waking up refreshed.
You can buy Gorilla Dream here.