Limitless? Can simple strategies improve our wellbeing and stress resilience?

Picture Limitless series with Chris Hemsworth

You may have seen the 2011 movie Limitless, based on the 2001 novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, where the main character Eddie Morra (played by Bradley Cooper), a struggling author with writer’s block, takes a pill which opens up his brain’s capacity so he can achieve so much more in his life; he becomes ‘superhuman’ as it were. Inevitably, there are massive downsides of hospitalisation and death with continued use of these pills. The moral of the story is that (for most of us) we can’t take short cuts; we must work to get where we want to be.

Now a new docuseries has been released by the same name with Chris Hemsworth, exploring our limits in a more realistic fashion…well perhaps, read on!

For those of you who have Disney+ (or have access to download websites), the new documentary series Limitless with Chris Hemsworth is exploring the latest science around living longer and healthier.

The first episode is called ‘Stress’ and explores all the things we discuss in our programme: how to reduce chronic stress when disabled and living amongst continuous frequent stress as we all often do with assessments, diagnoses and medical involvement.

I’m mentioning it because, unlike Spokz People who are always on a shoestring budget, Limitless have invested in some great animations to show us as viewers what stress does inside our bodies.

The series also gives tools by social psychologist Dr. Modupe Akinola to practise to manage chronic stress, and we were excited to see that the ideas discussed, for example box breathing, meditation and changing your self-talk are all in our programme!

That being said, it is still worth watching this series. Often, we need to hear things in different formats for change to happen. We need to hear things time and time again, packaged up differently. There is something magical about how television incorporates audio and visual in a heightened way that helps to stimulate change inside ourselves.

In watching Limitless, when we see Chris putting the coping strategies and tools into action, it really brings it alive in our minds. We can start to imagine how things that seem impossible could change in our own lives if we were able to support our bodies and minds and how that helps to increase our motivation to try and practise new strategies.

Steve and I also watched the second episode ‘Shock’, which talks about the benefits of both extreme cold and hot water (ice baths and saunas) for improving our immunity, reducing pain, and encouraging healing.

Even though I have a friend and a brother-in-law who have started practising cold water therapy, and I have known about this science for many years(!), I have not had the courage to try it for myself as being cold is something I struggle with all the time. I really would rather live in a tropical climate with a constant temperature of 25 degrees.

However, having watched this episode, both Steve and I have since given the cold shower a go. Let’s see if we manage it again!

Of course, let’s not forget, this is TV so it’s good entertainment as well, as Chris is forced to complete extreme challenges to demonstrate how these tools and techniques work in practice. That led to the thought, ‘if Chris can do these extreme activities, then perhaps I can try these tools in my mundane everyday life?’

One reminder from watching the stress episode is that what can be hard about changing our mental health and wellbeing, is that it can initially at least be hard to ‘see’ evidence of change happening when we are practising new things and stepping outside our comfort zone. We know that struggling to visualise change (as well as the usual fatigue and overwhelm) may be putting some of you off from getting stuck into the programme and getting over the first hurdle of practising the tools and giving new things a go.

A helpful way they do this in Limitless, is by tracking heart rate.

Do you remember the hyper-vigilance we discuss in the programme? That when we are stressed our heart rate, or number of beats a minute, goes up. As we learn through breathing, self-talk and meditation to bring ourselves out of the fight/flight reaction, we should see our heart rate drop down as our bodies go into rest.

You could even try this out before, during and after an assessment! Track your heart rate before you start practising these tools and then after a few weeks of practise and see how it improves.

You don’t need a fancy Fitbit either – save pennies and the planet by downloading a free heart rate monitor app. I just typed in ‘heart rate monitor’ and several popped up. They use the camera on your phone to measure your heart rate.

Using a heart rate tracker, this is a really good way to evidence that your stress-reduction practices are working.

Want to watch the series? You could join Disney+ just for a month to watch all 6 episodes (they are around 50-70 minutes each) for £7.99 or there are some short videos about it on YouTube, E.g.

Find out more about our support?

If you’re not a member yet, do check us out here, we have a 30 day free trial. You can explore all of the tools mentioned in this blog and much more.

For professionals, if you want to learn more about affirmative disability therapy and support, check out our training hub here

Thanks for reading, Mel & The Team

Leave a Reply