“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
– Robert H. Schuller
If I gave you a bit of poison every day for the next year, do you think you’d become immune to larger, normally lethal doses of that same poison?
But this practice is called Mithridatism and that word is derived from Mithridates VI, the King of Pontus, “who so feared being poisoned that he regularly ingested small doses, aiming to develop immunity.”
I don’t know how things fared for Mithridates VI, but I did recently learn that intentionally exposing yourself to “hormetic stress” — i.e. mild mind & body stressors — can make you healthier, reduce aging, help you live longer, and make you more resilient to other stress that comes in the future.
Which is sort of like drinking a little bit of poison every day. 🙂
Unlike chronic unhealthy stressors, hormetic stressors are “controlled, acute stressors that trigger healthy adaptive responses.”
The article also explains: “There’s also increasing evidence that the stress resilience we obtain from one hormetic stressor may help the body adapt to other stressors—even to psychological stressors like depression and anxiety—which is called ‘cross-adaptation.’”
What are some ways you can intentionally expose yourself to these healthy stressors?
Let’s get practical…
Intermittent Fasting — The easiest way to do this is to not eat from 7pm or 8pm to around Noon every day. Just skip breakfast. Here are some more intermittent fasting methods, for which the benefits are numerous.
Cold Exposure — It hurts. But as someone who’s taken cold showers every day for the last 6 months, I promise it’s worth it. You can feel the benefit the minute you get out. I like to take a warm shower while I wash myself, and then spend about 2-3 minutes in cold water afterward. This is also great for your mental wellbeing. Here are some benefits.
Heat Exposure — Have access to a sauna (or steam room)? Then spending 15-20 minutes every day in the sauna has tons of health benefits you might not expect.
High-Intensity Interval Training — Not fun. But it’s extremely beneficial. HIIT training is characterized by short periods of extremely demanding workouts intermixed with short periods of less intense exercises. Do a quick search on YouTube for “HIIT workouts” and you’ll find tons of workouts you could do at home.