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How do we combine the five survival stress tools appropriately?

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

“Survival stress tools stand at the peak of training modalities to consistently penetrate all levels and areas of the nervous system so that we can steer the stress response for intentional and positive outcomes."

- Matt Soule, author of Fight, Freeze, Fast, F^ck, Breathe - Mastering the Stress Response

Each survival stress tool offers a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits, when trained and applied correctly. When combined, layered or stacked together, the results are truly staggering.

Recall last week we focused on the Breathe tool, which is a stress tool modulator that allows us to purposefully induce acute stress for health benefits as well as harness the breath for improved performance. I referred to Breathe as the physical, mental, and emotional rudder that steers the nervous system for peak human performance.

This is the tool that elevates the efficacy of training in any domain as well as allows us to experience rest states as desired.

To begin, getting to know the switches and levers of your breath are essential so that you know how to shift your nervous system one direction or another.

Last week I posted an Instagram Live video demonstrating some fundamentals around exploring lung capacity, how to practice tidal volume breathing, emphasizing inhales & exhales, and how to develop control over timing of a full breath. If you haven't seen it yet, check out @soulemd on IG and you can find the video in the IG Live section of my profile.

Based on the application of breathing, you will need to understand three critical components of the breath: breath rate (ie. timing, how fast you are breathing), breath depth, and where to emphasize each breath.

A simple example is found in the Wim Hof Method, which includes using relatively fast breathing to induce an acute stress response prior to getting into ice water. Then once in the water, a shift to slow breathing emphasizing long exhales is needed. This combination fosters the fastest and deepest adaptation to the cold stress.

For this week, the takeaway is to follow these three steps:

Step 1 Learn how to integrate the survival stress tools for peak performance. Today we discussed more elements of the Breathe tool and I offered a clear example of how that is integrated with the Freeze tool by way of the Wim Hof Method.

Next week we will continue to learn how to integrate these tools for maximum effect. Want more now?


Step 2 Take action. By taking action and implementing these tools in our lives, the information = empowerment! The result will be a tremendously positive influence on bettering our lives. Start today by checking out some of the upcoming training opportunities. Visit the to learn more.

Check out opportunities at

Step 3 Maintain the balance. High-threshold tools are powerful, which means that when wielded correctly— that is using them consistently but in short durations— they will serve us. Overuse them and you will pay the price which often leads to burnout, injury or worse. We are all at different starting places so respect the power of the tool as you calibrate your personal training regimen. If you are unsure about a particular tool, routine or anything around your training, submit your question and I will do my best to answer it.

This week's question

"Sometimes it feels like a lot to keep up the practice. Any advice?"


Though there are several pieces to the art of a practice, a simple tip is to approach your training with fun and curiosity. Play in the cold for example, or fast with delight on how extraordinary your body is in its ability to adapt. Concentrate on one aspect of the training and get curious about it. Ask questions, explore and try new applications. Have fun!

Ask a Question

Do you have a specific question that you would like answered to help you with your training? Send me an email at or connect with me on Instagram @soulemd and I will include your question and answer in a future newsletter or blog post.

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