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‘Staying Wintered’: Here’s Bear Grylls’s Top Tip for Being Resilient in Life

Bear Grylls has said that “staying wintered” in life helps him get through life’s challenges. What exactly does this mean, and could it apply to your own life? 

“[Staying wintered is] the concept of keeping the inner part of you tough. And toughness is like a muscle: the more you work it, the more you visit those difficult moments and pain-filled endeavors, the more resilient you become to the hardships,” Bear writes in his 2021 book, Never Give Up.

Bear believes that resilience is one of the most important things to have in life. He gives an example of when he flew back to the U.K. from Switzerland one February, after he had been filming in the Alps. His next destination would be southern India, with the plains and jungle heat.

He had one day in the U.K. to catch up and also do a talk, and he says that when he got back to where he was staying that night, there was frost on the ground but he knew of a lake nearby and that “it would be amazing under this cold, midnight sky.”

He dumped all his bags, stripped down, and ran the 200 meters to the lake in the rain, before dropping his shorts and diving in.

“Ice water is always bracing, but also intoxicating. Especially at night, alone,” he says. “I sat in the shallows, with just my head exposed. The air felt warm, compared to the freezing water. I breathed deeply. Slowing everything down. In my head as much as in my body.”

The Power of Nature

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Bear says that he likes the power of nature to shock, heal, challenge, and restore, and staying wintered keeps the inner-resilience muscle tested and strong.

“Few things do that like an ice-cold lake on a winter’s night,” he writes in Never Give Up. He gives examples of scenarios he faced on Man vs. Wild, plus escaping frozen lakes and crossing icy rivers in the depths of winter with stars like Nick Jonas and Channing Tatum on Running Wild.

“There’s always that initial sense of trepidation from those with me, followed by exhilaration when we make it out the other side. Again, the healing power of nature to

bring confidence and empowerment,” he says.

Searching out the Hard Stuff

Image by Dieter Meyrl

Bear says that he has spoken about this concept to his sons since they were small.

“Not running from the failures . . . It is about searching out the hard stuff. It’s about knowing yourself. Becoming familiar with fear and pain. Knowing how to find a way through them. These are the things that empower young people for life,” he writes in Never Give Up.

Bear believes that school doesn’t always teach children the raw reality of how tough life can be. “It will kick the hell out of you many times, and force you to face many struggles on your own,” he writes.

He says that people should get used to aiming high and getting knocked down hard to have resilience and be able to get back on their feet—and that the struggle is what makes us strong.

“It is why, despite any success, I will always do all I can to stay wintered. Maybe not as much as when I was 21—even 31—but still wintered,” he says. “Know the power of doing difficult things. Keeping in touch with that inner steel. Train that ‘effort’ muscle. And never pass a chance to swim in ice-cold water. Preferably in the dark.”

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