What if the key to managing stress is…more stress? That is the finding of a growing number of biological investigations which indicate that brief intermittent episodes of stress, such as heat, exercise and dietary restriction, can strengthen the ability to withstand chronic stress.
dose with pressure bursts, called hormetic stress, it can help the body and mind get through difficult periods at work and at home. They can even help offset some of the unhealthy chronic stress caused by two years of the pandemic.
The high intensity interval trainingor HIITwhat increases and decreases the heart rate, is the most familiar hormetic stressor. Others Hormetic stress-inducing activities include cold showers or ice baths and hot saunas.
The podcasters and the fitness gurus promote other types of stress, sometimes controversial, such as intermittent fasting and the hypoxic Breathing, that temporarily deprives your body of oxygen, makes you wheeze, and can have serious medical risks. None should be done without the guidance of a doctor.
hormetic stress can help us cope with emotional stress, according Elissa Eppel, professor in the department of psychiatry University of California at San Francisco. “The practices create short-term spikes in biological stress followed by recovery, ease, and deep restoration. and that is difficult to achieve in any other way”, said the expert in dialogue with The Washington Post.
The practice is gaining more attention as people grapple with the mental health consequences of the pandemic and scientists continue to gain a better understanding of our mind-body connections.
Epel directs a study on hormetic stress at UCSF comparing the stress-relieving effects of low-intensity meditation, exercise, and the higher-intensity hypoxic breathing method Developed by Wim Hof, the Dutchman known as the Iceman, whose ability to withstand extreme cold has attracted millions of followers and practitioners online, including many celebrities.
Dr. Epel discovered that Hof’s breathing method (several rounds of 30 to 40 deep breaths followed by a long exhalation and an additional breath that you hold for 15 seconds) greatly lowered his own stress threshold. During the pandemic, he enlisted the specialist to teach the practice to healthcare providers in an emotional wellness webinar.
Brief periods of stress impact our systems at the cellular and molecular level, challenging our bodies to adapt to difficult conditions and restore balance.research shows. Studies have found that the process can help clear debris from our cells, promote the growth of new neural pathways and, over time, help slow the effects of aging.
Without hormetic stress “our cells become complacent. They don’t maintain their ability to cope with the kinds of stressors that cause disease,” he said. Mark Mattsona professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a recent podcast interview.
Risks and benefits
Activities that produce hormetic stress they can also carry serious risks, especially for certain groups of people. Doctors have expressed concern about the intermittent fasting, especially for the elderly, pregnant or with a medical condition.
The website of wim hof warns that its breathing method may cause dizziness, loss of consciousness and is not recommended for pregnant women or people taking medications for high blood pressure or people with epilepsy or heart disease.
Some people say that hormetic stress techniques have helped them endure periods of emotional stress. However, the benefit of hormetic stress is often dose dependent, as studies show. A group of scientists in Korea he discovered that brief episodes of stress caused by 5 minutes a day of captivity in a tube for two weeks could reverse depressive behavior in mice. Captivity for 10 or 15 minutes a day had no effect, according to their study published in the journal Nature Communications in November.
Some research on repetitive sauna use suggests that may have hormetic benefits. A study published in 2015 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed 20 years of sauna use by 2,300 middle-aged Finnish men. Men who took 20-minute saunas two to three times a week were 23% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease over the course of the study than men who took saunas once a week. Those who took four to seven saunas a week were 48% less likely to die.
Guidance on exposure to cold is less precise. Cold increases metabolic rate, causes blood vessels to constrict and makes the heart work a little harder, essentially exercising the cardiovascular system, scientists say. Lower the thermostat or spend time in the cold, without too many layers, can generate hormetic cold stress, say scientists and trainers. hof recommends a cold shower daily, starting with as long as you can, maybe 15 seconds to start, building up to 30 seconds and eventually up to the full shower if you can.
“To derive hormetic stress from workouts, you need to move hard enough that you can talk, but not sing, while you exercise,” explained Eli Puterman, who runs the lab fitnessaging and stress University of British Columbia.
Puterman conducted a three-year study on the effects of exercise on chronic stress in family caregivers of patients with dementia. The caregivers, who had been physically inactive, had access to a gym and a health coach. A six-month period of intermittent exercise reduced their chronic stress, lowered their levels of depression, and reversed some of the biological effects of aging. “I like to tell people: move your body more than you used to. You need to get your heart rate up and you need to sweat,” she concluded.
She is a professional organizer and was inspired by Marie Kondo: “Having a tidy house helps you live better and reduces stress”
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