Why Chilling Isn't The Same as Real Rest (And What to Do Instead) | The Health Sessions

Why Chilling Isn’t The Same as Real Rest (And What You Should Do Instead)

Flicking through magazines, watching YouTube clips and browsing social media are welcome distractions when your body needs a time-out. Curling up on the couch with your latest Netflix addiction surely is entertaining, but there’s a big difference between chilling in front of the TV and real rest.

Real rest encompasses more than lying still and keeping activity to a minimum. It involves activating your body’s natural relaxation response, a state of deep rest that balances your nervous system and promotes healing.

When you feel under pressure, your body releases stress hormones, triggering your sympathetic nervous system to prepare for fight or flight. The adrenaline in your bloodstream makes your heart beat fast, quickens your breathing and tenses your muscles. That’s very helpful in dangerous situations, but unfortunately it’s also activated by everyday challenges like traffic jams and work deadlines.

Contrary to this all-too-common stress response, the relaxation response acts like a built-in tranquilizer. It stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system to slow down your heart rate and breathing, relax your muscles and boost your immunity. Research even shows that mind-body interventions that activate the relaxation response, such as yoga and meditation, can reverse harmful inflammation at DNA level.

And what’s best of all: you have the power to produce this relaxation response whenever and wherever you want.

So let’s have a look at how you can maximize your downtime with 7 powerful practices. 

Read more >Why Chilling Isn’t The Same as Real Rest (And What You Should Do Instead)



Road to Recovery: How Anne Doussan Took Her Health into Her Own Hands | The Health Sessions

Road to Recovery: How Anne Doussan Took Her Health into Her Own Hands

When you’re diagnosed with chronic illness, is there anything you can do to improve your health and happiness? Can you (fully) recover from persisting health problems, and if so, how? In this interview on recovery, Anne Doussan from Still Moving shares her story. 

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, I’m Anne. I was diagnosed with chronic illnesses in my twenties, and for over a decade I followed the more conventional treatments. After getting little to no relief from surgeries and pharmaceuticals, however, I decided to take matters into my own hands. In February 2017 I went to an inpatient chronic pain and recovery center to get off all my medications and find alternative therapies. Since then, I’ve learned many new approaches to managing my chronic illnesses.

Read more >Road to Recovery: How Anne Doussan Took Her Health into Her Own Hands



Road to Recovery: How Zoe Emma Healed Her Chronic Fatigue | The Health Sessions

Road to Recovery: How Zoe Emma Healed Her Chronic Fatigue

When you’re diagnosed with chronic illness, is there anything you can do to improve your health and happiness? Can you (fully) recover from persisting health problems, and if so, how? In this first interview on recovery, Zoe Emma from Heal Chronic Fatigue shares her story.    Tell us a little about yourself. Hello! I’m Zoe … Read more >



Why Pacing Beats Push-and-Crash (and How to Best Manage Your Energy) | The Health Sessions

Why Pacing Beats Push-and-Crash Cycles (And How You Can Best Manage Your Energy)

If you’ve been living with a chronic illness for a while, you’ve probably heard of the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. For someone who’s seriously sick, each day starts with a limited amount of “spoons” of energy. They carefully have to decided how you can best spend each one, knowing that even mondain tasks like taking a shower or making lunch costs you precious spoons.

The Spoon Theory is a helpful analogy of what it’s truly like to live with chronic illness or disability. But how does it work in reality? How do you decide how to spend your spoons? What do you do when you have no spoons left but still half a day ahead of you?

In my experience, there are two broad strategies: pacing and push-and-crash. 

I used to be the queen of push-and-crash cycles. At the time, it really was the only way to get things done: resting up and preparing before an event – going to school, necessary shopping trips, hanging out with family and friends – putting every last drop of effort into getting to and through the event and then… crash. Hard. It meant my symptoms would exacerbate and I couldn’t do much else but rest the next day(s) to recover from that activity.

Read more >Why Pacing Beats Push-and-Crash Cycles (And How You Can Best Manage Your Energy)



Taking An Ice Bath: What You Can Learn From Breathing & Cold Exposure Training | The Health Sessions

Taking An Ice Bath: What You Can Learn From Breathing & Cold Exposure Training

Ronald Aartsen is a practitioner of Japanese acupuncture and other acupuncture styles with classic roots in Rotterdam & Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He also gives workshops teaching Breathing and Cold Exposure after finishing an instructors year in 2014 with Wim Hof, better known as The Ice Man.

 

1. What is Breathing & Cold Exposure training, based on the Wim Hof Method?

It’s a method that consists of 3 components: breathing techniques, cold exposure and mindset/focus.

 

2. Why would anyone voluntarily take an ice bath? What are the benefits of cold exposure?

Excellent question. If you would have told me before 2014 that I (being a big fan of tropical sun and climates) would be sitting in an ice bath, take outdoor swims in the winter or be hiking through snowy landscapes in shorts, I probably would have thought you lost your mind.

But as an acupuncturist and a meditation & qigong enthusiast I am very interested in our self healing abilities and our inner power. So I read about Wim Hof and the research that was going on and decided to step out of my comfort zone and registered for a workshop.

I loved the effect of the breathing techniques and the power I felt in and after the ice bath! Me as an Indo chilling in a tub filled with ice cubes. And I loved the simplicity of it all. You don’t have to train for years and years to be able to do this.

Let me be clear, the components are not new. The East has a long tradition of similar disciplines and people know the benefits for their health. Same goes for Russia and Northern Europe for example. Wim Hof just made it available to larger group and involved science to research the combination of these techniques.

After the one day workshop I immediately registered for the instructors year including a week of training in Poland and walking up a ski slope in shorts to name one element.

I will just name a few results here without getting into the scientific details. Research has shown that cold exposure can lead to a better functioning immune system (and how to voluntarily control it), increase in metabolism and an increase in brown fat. Combined with the breathing and focus techniques it can help to reduce pain, lead to better cirulation and boost your cardiovasclular system and energy. You can find a great overview on the research here.

The Cool Challenge was a project to measure the effects of cold showering. The report can be found here.

Read more >Taking An Ice Bath: What You Can Learn From Breathing & Cold Exposure Training