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Being Comfortable with Discomfort

Sport psychologist and physiologist Martin Pet favors cold showering not only for its invigorating physical effects, but also for its ability to train our cognitive control. Martin found out that he could override his automatic negative response to an unpleasant stress signal by training his mind to accept the discomfort. His insights extend well beyond the bathroom walls.

Sports psychologist Martin Pet on being comfortable with discomfort

Key insights

  • Motivation is key to achieving any goal you set for yourself: Martin’s interest in cold therapy stemmed from his challenge as a triathlete to train in early season cold waters. Overcoming this challenge motivated him to try cold therapy, and stick with it.

  • We can over-ride our natural negative response to discomfort: A cold shower, however short, provokes a clear, unpleasant physical stress signal. The signal activates the ‘fight or flight’ reaction and triggers a natural, emotional fear response. Mindfully practicing cold therapy trains the prefrontal cortex, the cool and composed rational part of our brain, to remain quietly in charge in the face of adversity.

  • The secret of cold therapy is in calmly accepting loss of control: Mindfully surrendering to the discomfort of a cold shower teaches us to let go of the need to control the cold discomfort, and by extension, the discomforts in our life.

  • The benefit of cold therapy is in rewiring the brain for resilience: Cold therapy gradually shapes an unbeatable mindset - ‘I can deal with anything that comes my way’. It also reinforces willpower and self-efficacy.

  • Create the conditions for success: Check what your motivation is for cold showering. Set small, doable steps. And use any unsuccessful execution as a reflection point for yourself.

20 day cold shower challenge

Download Wim Hof’s 20 day challenge form and start tracking your goals and results.

Dive deeper

Can you do what Martin can?

To help you keep your energy levels high and stay positive throughout your day it is essential to take breaks regularly. To help you get more out of your downtime, Martin Pet, a seasoned sport and performance psychologist and physiologist, will challenge you to perform a wide range of exercises that will do just that.

Do this core stability exercise 2.0 together with Martin Pet. Note: not suitable for people with back or neck complaints
Find out how he does it and why
Ready for a core stability exercise 2.0? Even if your neck and back are strong enough, this one is really for the sporty spice, if you know what I mean. Stand on your head, stretch your legs up high and bend them up and down while keeping them extended. The beautiful thing about today’s exercise is that it requires you to use your body in completely different ways then you are used to. So for sure you won’t be processing any work related issues for a couple of minutes and that’s what this is all about. However, you can have the same effect with tons of other, maybe easier, alternatives. So, if you have a more realistic micro break working for you, go for it. The message is; just take a break every now and then!

About the crew member

Martin Pet • Sport and performance psychologist and physiologist
Martin Pet

Sport and performance psychologist and physiologist Martin helps individuals, teams and organizations to deliver sustainable top performance by enhancing their vitality and mental power. As the lead expert at Lifeguard, he is constantly improving the knowledge and content of our training sessions. With his limitless energy he will provide you some tips and tools to stay fit and energetic during this stormy period.

Your journey until now