Fight – Freeze – Fast – F^ck – Breathe: Mastering The Stress Response

Adventurer, entrepreneur and author Matt Soule’s new book Fight – Freeze – Fast – F^ck – Breathe: Mastering The Stress Response is a fascinating mix of travelogue and wellness guide – a “must read” for #TeamHuman at this strange Civilizational moment for our species.

“Don’t just survive,” he suggests. “Maximally survive by mastering the stress response.’

Soule is uniquely qualified to explore this landscape, as a Level 3 Wim Hof Method instructor, martial arts instructor, and one of very few Humans to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, in a mere 34 unacclimatized hours (an astounding story he shares in the first part of his book).

ased on Soule’s work, here are five strategies – each an action verb – that collectively explain how each of us can “master our stress response” to maximize health, wellness, and enjoyment as we flow through Life. Consider each of these a “teaser” – Soule’s book provides in-depth wisdom surrounding each one of these approaches. It is vital to see the ‘stress response’ as a continuum,” explains Soule, with myriad potentialities for optimizing our Human experience.

Here’s a quick overview:

Fight: “The FIGHT tool improves creativity, as well as the speed and quality of the decision-making process, [and] taps into and helps us overcome fear of conflict, fear of pain or injury, fear of helplessness, fear of harm to both self and others, and fear of death,” writes Soule. “Fight teaches us critical facets of adaptability and how to find peace in chaos.” With this tool, Soule draws on his years of martial arts experience, making a compelling case for focused physical activity in the presence of an opponent to dial in fight tool optimization.

Freeze: “The FREEZE tool is an environmental acute stress tool that vastly improves our cardiovascular and immune systems, allows us to practice full acceptance of the things we cannot change, and helps us confront known difficulties – such as loss, grief, past or current traumas, depression, or feelings of being overwhelmed by life circumstances – while also helping us tap into fears of the unknown such as anxieties or death,” explains Soule. “This tool lets us learn to reinterpret physical and emotional pain, adapt, and find acceptance.” By “freeze,” Soule is referring to regular cold water immersion – cold showers or ice baths – to build hormetic resilience of Mind, Body, and Spirit, a protocol popularized in the West by one of the three pillars of the Wim Hof Method (and indeed, Soule is a Level 3 WHM instructor). #ColdIsGold!

Fast: “The FAST tool becomes an environmental acute stress tool that physically helps us optimize our bodies through hormone and gene expression, improves our senses, and contributes to our longevity,” observes Soule. “We also confront the stress of scarcity and learn to overcome the fear of having to go without, [and we] confront the fear of death [and] better discern between want and need while simultaneously engendering gratitude for abundance and simplicity alike.” By fasting, Soule is referring to what some scientists and nutritionists call “time restricted” eating, in which Humans establish a daily “eating window” of 8-12 hours, and “fast” during the rest of a 24 hour cycle. The bottom line – many Humans eat too much food too frequently, and fasting is a powerful tool for rebalancing our relationship with food, health and longevity.

F^ck: “The F^CK tool (‘meaning sex, eroticism, and intimacy’) allows us to use it as a relational acute stress tool that improves immune function, strengthens us physically, and refines coordination,” Soule notes, and “improves cooperation and communication between individuals, helps us confront the fears of loneliness, inadequacy, acceptance, and death and legacy.” Everyone’s favorite, and the most fraught! Timing, rhythm, pressure, and integration – four elements of successful f^ck tool deployment. More in Soule’s book!

Breathe: “The BREATHE tool allows us to purposefully induce acute stress for health benefits and harness it for improved performance,” highlights Soule, “and can improve immune function, optimize hormones, develop and refine nervous system messaging, strengthen respiratory operation and cardiovascular health, improve blood flow, clear metabolic waste, and vastly improve recovery times for everything from injury to fatigue.” Here, Soule draws on both breathing biomechanics and biochemistry, offering useful protocols for tapping into the power of the breath for a wide variety of health and wellness outcomes.

Once again – we are just skipping over the surface of Soule’s fascinating book here in this short review.

Grab and read a copy, and begin to adopt Soule’s five-pronged approach to “master your stress response.”

We’ve got this, #TeamHuman!


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Patrick McKeown

“My mission is to empower people to take control of their own health, well-being and fitness using simple breathing exercises proven to improve body oxygenation” – Patrick McKeown.

World- renowned author and breathing practitioner Patrick McKeown was educated at Trinity College in Dublin, before completing his clinical training in the Buteyko Breathing Method at the Buteyko Clinic, Moscow, Russia. This training was accredited by Professor Konstantin Buteyko. Patrick continues to have a tremendous impact on breath and educating millions around the world..