WHM Fundamentals: Stress Control


Stress. We all suffer from it from time to time. Some of us are perhaps in a permanent state of stress (I know I have had periods in my life when everything was out of kilter and I simply couldn’t function at all, only the mechanical processes of breathing, eating and sleeping seemed to work, and not that well either). Add to that the position most of us find ourselves in now, lost without direction in a world so chaotic and polarized, nothing seems to be going right.

I’m a firm believer in only concerning oneself with things that are within our control, worrying too much about things we cannot influence only leads to stress, to anxiety, to depression (or worse).

As I’ve been doing WHM for the best part of three months now, I can safely say that my stress levels (given everything that is going on in the world) are low. Week 1 taught me a few things about myself, that by having a mechanical approach to yoga, meditation, breath work and now cold therapy, gives one the ability to control the mind more. My wife had always said that I think and worry too much, but I’ve not heard her say that for quite a while now, so I must be doing something right, and one of the goals for this week was to replicate the stress-free attitude in work in the home, and by jingo I think I cracked it!

This week added new tasks to my daily roster of activities, namely controlled breathing (which measures normal breaths and controlled breaths using mantras/chanting – more grunting for me) and plunging hands and feet into iced water for three minutes, both of which I had no issues with. The focused mind can achieve so much, a broken mind achieves so little, getting power of the mind is the key to a happy, strong and healthy us.

Monday

βœ“ Stretches 🀒

βœ“ Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🀒

x Cold Hands / Feet 🀬

βœ“ Controlled Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Sleep Quality 🀒

βœ“ Stress Level 🀒

βœ“ Energy Level 🀒

βœ“ Mood 🀒

Yoga: Sun. Swan. Sun. Swan. Plank. Cobra. Cobra. Dog. Walking dog. Sun. Swan Butterfly. Neck Dangle. Arm Dangle. Sun. Child. Coffin. Knees chest/left/right. Coffin.

Notes: Apologised to my wife on my lack of patience and compassion yesterday during the kayak adventure. She said she has not seen any improvement in my attitude since starting WHM. Instead of reacting, I acknowledged this (which is new!), and aimed to change her perception by more positive actions and less reactions by the end of the week. Went for a 3km run (first in long time) and it went well, though need to keep an eye on the knees as they were sore later on, in an effort to increase the cardio activity, one eye on the proposed Snowdon trip with WHM Instructor Paul in a few months time. Decided to keep Week 1 stretches as a warm-up throughout the Fundamentals course as I really enjoy them. Did Week 1 and 2 stretches before taking another 10 min ice bath this morning, water was 11.1c when getting in, 16.5c when getting out, just shows how quickly the water warms up from the body, so skipped the ice plunge for and hands and feet because of this. Did controlled breathing exercise at a 10/2 rate. Feels like I have powerful lung capacity, probably due to the running and racing over the years, as well as WHM over the last 3 months. Did 4 rounds of breath work (2m45s, 3m0s, 4m0s, 4m20s) in the evening, after completing them all I lay naked (eeuuww) in the total darkness for 20 mins, energy coming in waves, and felt like a physical uncoiling in the belly, with overwhelming peaceful thoughts rising and falling. Need to also keep an eye on the tinnitus levels as well, quite loud going to sleep tonight. Great start to Week 2 though, another busy week at work and in the social diary. Created a notice board so I can track of my yoga postures each day and complete my homework sheet, and used my inflatable camping mat so I could do my WHM in the office whilst the son is using the spare room in his time home from Uni. No big pharmacy pills for 3 months, reduced inflammation due to a gluten-free / wheat free diet (mostly) and no alcohol. Keep going!

Tuesday

βœ“ Stretches 🀒

βœ“ Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🀒

βœ“ Cold Hands / Feet 🀒

βœ“ Controlled Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Sleep Quality 🀒

βœ“ Stress Level 🀒

βœ“ Energy Level 😐

βœ“ Mood 🀒

Notes: Controlled breathing was different today 11/3.5, is it because I’m back at the corporate grind? Perhaps, although things are relatively calm at work. 3 min cold shower in the morning. Tired in the evening, a little weak from the days events, maybe due to dropping another half kilo over the weekend. Took more calories today to make up for the short fall after some essentials shopping (for the kids back to school/university) by eating out (nice gluten-free plant-based burger at Byron’s Burgers) so thought I would have had to kick and scream my way into yoga and breathing, but the ice challenge for the hands and feet (2 mins) followed up by hot tub sorted that. Full stretches, getting lower down already on the butterfly and the forward dangle. 4 breathing rounds were fine (2m0s, 3m45s, 4m0s, 4m0s). Will sleep tonight! Getting used to having less clothes on too. Doing my breath work and yoga naked seems more natural and less restrictive, and when I can get away with it I’ll do the same around the house. Clearly I do it out of site of others, wouldn’t want to subject others to that ghastly site!

Wednesday

x Stretches 🀬

x Breathing 🀬

βœ“ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🀒

x Cold Hands / Feet 🀬

βœ“ Controlled Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Sleep Quality 🀒

βœ“ Stress Level 🀒

βœ“ Energy Level 🀒

βœ“ Mood 🀒

Notes: Back up to optimal weight again which feels better. Lovely 5 minute cold shower, as the temperatures outside are colder, so is the shower water. Injecting a bit of fun into proceedings, I have started to dance like Thom Yorke in the Lotus Flower Radiohead video definitely helps stave off the cold, coincidentally its exactly 5 minutes long so I’ll do that from now on. Busy day in work and ended up falling asleep on the sofa, waking up at 11pm, was shattered so no yoga, breathing or ice challenge. Bummer…

Thursday

βœ“ Stretches 🀒

βœ“ Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🀒

βœ“ Cold Hands / Feet 🀒

βœ“ Controlled Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Sleep Quality 🀒

βœ“ Stress Level 🀒

βœ“ Energy Level 🀒

βœ“ Mood 🀒

Notes: Smashed it this morning, yoga, breathing (2m45s, 3m35s, 3m45s, 5m0s) and cold shower (5 mins) all done before work. Also tested my pH levels which were 6.0 before WHM and 7.0 after. Some change that in 30 mins! May research on whether ones first piss of the day is naturally more acidic, would expect so after a long sleep. Interesting though. Controlled breathing good (10/2.5). Ice challenge before evening spa (3 mins hands) and off work tomorrow, life is good!

Friday

βœ“ Stretches 🀒

βœ“ Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🀒

βœ“ Cold Hands / Feet 🀒

βœ“ Controlled Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Sleep Quality 🀒

βœ“ Stress Level 🀒

βœ“ Energy Level 🀒

βœ“ Mood 🀒

Notes: Straight on the yoga, controlled breathing (10/3) and “Thom Yorke Shower Therapy”. Day off work today with daughter, which was spent on a coffee crawl around most of the independent coffee shops in my home town, lovely. Had an impromptu hot stone massage from the wife in the evening which was amazing. Super chilled. Cold hands, feet and face tonight, found better receptacle (washing up bowl), which I poured over my head in an ice bucket challenge fashion at the end, hope I don’t get corns on my face!. 4 rounds of breathing (3m0s, 3m0s, 4m15s, 2m15s) in the evening. Smashed it! Little pain in my right leg (recurrent issue) probably due to yoga stretches and retention clench and relax, will take it a little easier tomorrow, will need meditation / stress relief to build garden fence for the wife’s mother!

Saturday

βœ“ Stretches 🀒

βœ“ Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🀒

x Cold Hands / Feet 🀬

βœ“ Controlled Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Sleep Quality 🀒

βœ“ Stress Level 🀒

βœ“ Energy Level 🀒

βœ“ Mood 🀒

Notes: Completed stretches and built fence with no complications and a happy mother in law to boot! 3 intense rounds of breathing (4m0s, 4m30s, 5m20s) and saw that my face was quite red afterwards, I guess due to the retention. Nice 5 min cold shower to chill down. Dancing like Thom Yorke in the shower brings a chuckle to my routine, don’t think I can stop now. Maybe when I’m in the cold waterfalls next month (on my WHM Weekender in Cumbria) I may not do it in front of others, but may do it for laughs (hopefully they will see the funny side!). Went to town for an all you can eat and drink supper, first time I’ve been on a bender with others and not drank, I have the willpower not to drink already, and the evening was really nice and fun, so I’m not too much of a boring bastard without the booze which is nice to know! No time for ice challenges today, though I did do a pH test which had odd results, top marker = 6.0, bottom marker = 6.75, either way still quite acidic. Will see what all of that means tomorrow. Wonder how pH levels change during the day, and will also research on whether breath hold for 4-5 mins is a good thing or not and what the scientific benefits or hindrances are.

Sunday

βœ“ Stretches 🀒

βœ“ Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🀒

x Cold Hands / Feet 🀬

βœ“ Controlled Breathing 🀒

βœ“ Sleep Quality 🀒

βœ“ Stress Level 🀒

βœ“ Energy Level 🀒

βœ“ Mood 🀒

Notes: Well, life well and truly got in the way of practice today but boy was it worth it! Up early to do my cold shower and controlled breathing, then off to the Neighbourhood Weekender Music Festival with my daughter, her first ever. It’s safe to say I did my stretches and breathing in an unorthodox way today! As she is only 5 foot tall, she was on my back most of the day so she could see the bands play, so stomach crunches, lunges, dad-dancing and deep breathing were the only things to get me through and it worked! We both had an amazing time and was well worth the practice sacrifice, we have to live and have as much fun as we can as well, right!

The next two days I was totally destroyed, and I still had to go to work (with a lot of work planned), so I took 2 days off from the Fundamentals Training to recuperate before going into Week 3, which ironically is all about Energy Management!

I’ve learned enough about Stress Control this week though, through the ice challenges and the controlled breathing, and I asked my wife if she had seen a difference in my β€œhousehold stress” this week as I’d been making a conscious effort to improve, and she said it was quite a change (for the better), so thanks Wim for the remote marriage guidance!

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