OPINION: Channel your inner Wim Hof in Saunton this weekend

(L to R) Iwan Williams and James Hawes

(L to R) Iwan Williams and James Hawes - Credit: James Hawes

Channel your inner Wim Hof at Dip N Donate this Sunday (Nov 28) at Saunton Beach. 

Wim Hof, the Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete and motivational coach, best known for his incredible ability to handle freezing temperatures. In a recent video, he explains that he lost the love of his life to suicide. “It’s a black hole within yourself. It breaks your heart, and you don’t know why,” says Hof. 

“But the train of daily life is going on and you’ve gotta catch up otherwise you lose it. So, I had to be there for my children. My children made me survive in that time, but nature healed my wounds.” 

Hof’s is a familiar story to many. Driving over Taw Bridge in Barnstaple, there’s a breath-taking view of the estuary and luscious green countryside surrounding the town. It’s a great place to drive during the sunset, as golden hues shine across the landscape. But as you pass over the Taw Vale river, you’ll see the signs that serve as a reminder that life is not always as picture-perfect as the Devonshire countryside. 

Scientific studies have shown that the techniques Wim Hof promotes can help the body with stressors better for everyday life

Scientific studies have shown that the techniques Wim Hof promotes can help the body deal with negative stressors better for everyday life - Credit: James Hawes

The unmissable highlighter green suicide prevention signs have been posted as a last resort attempt to reach out to those who have ascended the bridge thinking it would be for the last time. 

According to the Local Government Association, the South West has the highest rate of suicide in England. That’s why, now more than ever, it’s so important to highlight the importance of talking about mental health. 

Mental health and wellbeing are two things that we all need to look after. But, “there is no one answer,” says Iwan Williams, who previously suffered from anxiety and depression after “years of partying” and keeping his emotions locked up. “I struggled for a long time, whilst searching for an answer.” 

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Together, he and friend James Hawes, connected by their passion for cold water dipping and mental health awareness, are organising a community Dip N Donate event for Movember, a charity that raises awareness for men’s health issues and is best known for promoting the growing of moustaches during the month of November. 

“Wim Hof is a huge inspiration. As I started my own healing process, I found a sense of passion and purpose to want to share that journey with other people,” says James. “Coldwater dipping enables you to regulate your nervous system through the breath. When you learn to quickly regulate your nervous system, you can translate this into everyday life to help with the stresses and pressures that we face.” 

Scientific studies have shown that the techniques Wim Hof promotes can help the body deal with negative stressors better for everyday life. Both James and Iwan are focused on shining a light on mental health and have organised this event to bring the community together to try something new, make friends, and raise awareness for mental health. 

North Devon newcomer and surfer Stephanie Conway

North Devon newcomer and surfer Stephanie Conway - Credit: Contributed

The event starts at 10am on Sunday, November 28, at Saunton Beach. Attendees will meet at the Walking on Waves surf school, before dipping in the sea together. 

Once everyone has dipped themselves in at Saunton beach, there will be a short presentation at 51 Degrees Coffee Shop in Braunton on the benefits of cold-water therapy, and the importance of mental health awareness. Anyone and everyone are welcome to attend, and equally, anyone and everyone can donate as much or as little as they can afford. 

“Let’s come together as a community, have fun, get outside of our comfort zones, and learn a little bit more about the benefits on our mental health,” adds Iwan. “All for a good cause!” 

If you’re unable to attend and would still like to donate, please visit uk.movember.com/donate/

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