Is your heart beating to the rhythm of stress? We can become “comfortable” with this status—thinking that constant stress is “normal,” which in turn affects our bodies, our health. WebMd lists these effects for constant stress: depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and more. So, when there is a tool that helps us manage long-term stress (because who doesn’t need that after last year?!), it’s worth considering.
I recently became certified as a HeartMath practitioner. It’s been a good learning experience for me personally, as well. This research-based technology supports a brain-body-heart approach to helping reduce stress and improving our ability to withstand stress. Helping us become more resilient to everything that comes at us.
Some studies on HeartMath show:
24% improvement in the ability to focus
30% improvement in sleep
38% improvement in calmness
46% drop in anxiety
48% drop in fatigue
56% drop in depression
The effect of heart activity on brain function has been researched extensively over about the past 40 years. Earlier research mainly examined the effects of heart activity occurring on a very short time scale – over several consecutive heartbeats at maximum. Scientists at the HeartMath Institute have extended this body of scientific research by looking at how larger-scale patterns of heart activity affect the brain’s functioning.
HeartMath research has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity (which accompany different emotional states) have distinct effects on cognitive and emotional function.
The technology has been around for several decades and was originally created for top athletes to improve their performance; when a person reaches a certain point in their athleticism, it is hard to see improvements. So this technology evaluates one aspect of health—heart rate variability (HRV)—to help track subtle (but important) improvements. From a 2016 research study, “HRV is becoming one of the most useful tools for tracking the time course of training adaptation/maladaptation of athletes and in setting the optimal training loads leading to improved performances.”
Your Heart is Talking
Today, we all can use this technology with the help of a sensor and a smart phone. The HeartMath sensor works with an app to “measure your heart rate variability in real-time during live sessions.” Your heart is giving off hormones and signals that work like little messengers to your body and brain, affecting your perceptions of stress, and for some, tricking your body and brain into thinking that chronic stress is normal.
As chronic stress takes its toll, it increases the likelihood that one will become ill and develop a disease. But when you use various stress-reduction techniques and healthy lifestyle habits (like improving your HRV), you can build resilience through stressful times.
While I could write more about the HeartMath concept, I don’t want to get too long winded about this concept. If you are interested in this technique, I would be happy to talk. Sign up for a free consultation with me.