Calm yourself in seconds with this simple biohack

Did you know there is a simple hack to calm down and think clearly left behind by our distant ancestors? And it only takes a few moments.

Simply holding your breath whilst splashing water on your face activates a primal relaxation process called The Mammalian Dive Reflex.

Found in all mammals, receptors around the nostrils detect cold water and primitive reflexes left behind from our ancestors prepare you for survival under water.

Despite the fact that the majority of mammalian species have lost many of the biological ties that connect us to the oceans (ie. lungs don’t function particularly well underwater), we are still inherently related to our ocean dwelling ancestors and the diving reflex is a remnant of some of the features that allowed those relatives of the past to survive in the aquatic environment.

Your heart rate slows, blood is redirected to your organs and brain, improving cognitive processing.

It calms your whole body down in preparation for oxygen restriction.

The Mammalian Dive Reflex is most pronounced in diving mammals such as seals and dolphins, but it is also used by Free Divers to achieve tremendous physical feats by slowing down their oxygen consumption rate using extreme relaxation
The Mammalian Dive Reflex is most pronounced in diving mammals such as seals and dolphins, but it is also used by Free Divers to achieve tremendous physical feats by slowing down their oxygen consumption rate using extreme relaxation

This is also a great thing to do before going to sleep if you’ve had a busy day.

So the next time you’re feeling fatigued or worried at work, are anxious before giving a presentation or someone is bothering you, rather than grab another coffee, go (very) old school and splash some cold water on your face!

Further Reading

Espersen, K., Frandsen, H., Lorentzen, T., Kanstrup, I. L., & Christensen, N. J. (2002). The human spleen as an erythrocyte reservoir in diving-related interventions. Journal of Applied Physiology.
Gooden, B. A. (1994). Mechanism of the human diving response. Integrative physiological and behavioural science.
Lin, Y. C. (1982). Breath-hold diving in terrestrial mammals. Exercise and sport sciences reviews.
Muth, C. M., Ehrmann, U., & Radermacher, P. (2005). Physiological and clinical aspects of apnea diving. Clinics in chest medicine.
Palada, I., Eterović, D., Obad, A., Bakovic, D., Valic, Z., Ivancev, V., … & Dujic, Z. (2007). Spleen and cardiovascular function during short apneas in divers. Journal of Applied Physiology.
Paulev, P. E., Pokorski, M., Honda, Y., Ahn, B., Masuda, A., Kobayashi, T., … & Nakamura, W. (1990). Facial cold receptors and the survival reflex” diving bradycardia” in man. The Japanese journal of physiology.
Scholander, P. F. (1964). The master switch of life. Scientific American, (209).

#stress #resilience #vagusnerve #resiliency #mentalhealth #neuroscience #biohacking

Matt

Experienced business leader, mentor and coach, with fascinations for technology, psychology and ancient philosophies. A self-confessed techno hippy with a unique talent for bringing the best out in people.

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