Why Silicon Valley elites swear by ice baths and "positive stress"

So-called 'positive stress' has been growing in popularity among Silicon Valley workers.


Silicon Valley changed the way we communicate, work, play and catch Pokémon. Can it also transform how we approach health?

Companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple hire the brightest minds who work long hours to bring amazing advancements to life. To keep up with the demanding lifestyle, tech workers have been looking outside the box to power themselves, trying nutrient solutions like Soylent, training their minds with philosophy, or taking 'smart drugs'. Now another approach to getting the most out of your body has been gaining in popularity among workaholic techies. It's called 'positive stress'.

The proponents of positive stress think that combining tactics like subjecting yourself to extreme temperatures, limited diets, grueling workouts and overall discomfort can help you live longer and more productively.


Image: Shutterstock.

As reported by CNBC, Silicon Valley denizens like Zachary Rapp often work 18-hour days, having to get through “an inhuman amount of work.” To reduce the stress, Rapp, who co-founded three startups—the digital health company PhenoMx as well as two digital device makers—has been taking ice baths. He also complements that practice with hot yoga, occasional fasting and a special diet which restricts grains, sugar, and alcohol.

"It keeps me balanced," Rapp said, "Like the stress is leaving my body, so I don't feel like I'm hitting a brick wall."

Rapp also claims to get sick just once a year and thinks positive stress can help the body to build up tolerances that make it easier to cope with everyday challenges.

Some ascribe the growing popularity of cold showers and ice baths to the Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof. He has been dubbed “ice man” for using deep breathing to withstand severe cold. His series of workshops and a 2017 speaking tour of Silicon Valley have really spread his ideas. Joel Runyon, a triathlete who gives TED talks about the power of cold showers, thinks Hof has “converted” the tech gurus to the ideas of positive stress.

Of course, the idea of using cold showers to get healthier is not new. Ancient Romans have been known to partake of cold baths called frigidariums regularly. Such experiences were supposed to close the pores opened by the hot baths.

Whether cold showers or ice baths can actually help your health is still up for debate. Some studies have found them to have little bearing on getting sick, while others concluded that the cold can help increase circulation, improve skin, reduce stress and help with weight loss.

To learn more about the “ice man” Wim Hof, check out this video:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less