The Power of the Heart to Transform Stress

middle-aged businesswoman suffering a stress headache sitting at her desk

The following is a guest post by Anna McConville of Replenish Wellbeing

Stress seems to be a common feeling in these rapidly changing times. It’s how we respond, however, to the emotional pressure and tension we feel from the little everyday hassles— rush-hour traffic, too many emails and catastrophic news on a daily basis— that do the most damage.

Stress affects people physically, mentally and emotionally. According to The American Institute of Stress, up to 90% of all health problems are related to stress. Too much stress can contribute to and agitate many health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression and sleep disorders. Everyone responds to stress differently.

Take this quick quiz to see if you are experiencing stress. The items you check will reveal how much stress is affecting your life.

  • I feel overly tired or fatigued.
  • I often am nervous, anxious or depressed.
  • I have sleep problems.
  • I have repeated headaches or minor aches and pains.
  • I worry about my job, finances or relationships.

It’s not the events or situation that do the harm, but how you respond to those events. More precisely, it’s how you feel about them that determines whether you are stressed. Emotions, or feelings, have a powerful impact on the human body. Positive emotions like appreciation, care and love not only fee good, they are good for you. They help your body’s systems synchronize and work better, as a well-tuned car.

Research at The Institute of HearthMath has shown that when you intentionally shift to a positive emotion, heart rhythms immediately change. This shift in heart rhythms creates a favorable cascade of neural, hormonal and biochemical events that benefit the entire body. This allows you to become more coherent and resilient.

Here’s the short version of how to do a quick reset in any situation:

  1. Imagine the breath passing in and out through the heart or the center of the chest.
  2. Breathe an attitude of calm or balance (or whatever positive feeling you choose) to help restore balance.

Heart-focused breathing is being taught by doctors, nurses and clinics throughout the world. It’s especially helpful during times of crisis or whenever you experience anger, anxiety or emotional overload. Heart-focused breathing exercises can help you shift stress-producing attitudes more quickly and reset your stress tolerance baseline anytime you want to rebalance or get an energy boost.

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