Every individual I have coached for the past 20 years has experienced different levels of stress on a daily basis. The National Institute of Mental Health defines stress as the brain’s response to any demand. These demands are dynamic in nature, and are triggered by physical and emotional change requiring a response. Stress can be subtle building up day by day, or abruptly caused by an event perceived “good or bad”. The ability an individual has in managing their stress will effect their resiliency, the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt to challenges or adversity.
The HeartMath System is designed to improve your resiliency capacity, so that when an individual faces stress they have the available energy to self-regulate and be in charge of how they look at and respond to stress. The principle that drives the system is coherency. Coherency is when your heart, mind, and emotions of the body are all working in sync creating an optimal state of function. The benefits are numerous when one is coherent:
- More energy
- Recover faster from physical, mental, and emotional stressors
- More stability
- Optimize performance
- “Take Charge” of yourself
- Faster reactions and coordination
- Enhanced clarity to stay focused and make better decisions
- Better sleep
The level of coherency one is at directly effects our autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is a division of the peripheral nervous system that regulates 90% of our bodies systems. Heart rate, digestion, hormonal, and uninary are a few of the functions the ANS is involved in. The ANS has two branches: the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system aids in digestion, elimination, rest, and alleviation of stress, while the sympathetic nervous system is the “fight or flight” nervous system. Individual’s need to have the ability to efficiently operate in both systems, but within a balance. Unfortunately, most individuals find themselves spending most of their time in the sympathetic nervous system.
Behavioral drivers (emotions) are the catalyst for which branch is activated. Emotions influence an individual to do what we want or need to do, and conversely these emotions drive us not to do what we want or need to do. The emotions that we have unfortunately are built from patterns. Many of these patterns are developed from past life experiences from early childhood to present, and define how we are built or hard wired. This hard wiring or neural architecture creates a baseline from which we see every situation from. For example, if you have a worry baseline this becomes the standard view of every situation you encounter. As you can imagine if an individual has a baseline consistent with anger, frustration, and anxiety they will find themselves activating the sympathetic nervous system and draining their ability to be resilient. This lack of resiliency will inevitable enhance the perceived stressor, and eventually wear the individual out.
Of course not all emotional drivers develop draining or less then optimally patterns, and one driver can have a different effect from individual to individual. Emotional drivers can be classified as depleting or renewing. Think of a car battery, emotional drivers can either charge or deplete the battery. Examples of depleting emotional drivers are:
Examples of renewing emotional drivers are:
The HeartMath System will create an awareness of the emotional drivers that effect you the most, how much time you spend with each emotion, and are the results optimal for you. Once awareness is created there are three key strategies that are utilized to build and sustain your resiliency.
- Prep: to set the tone for the day and to be more composed before upcoming stressful events, or even a regular routine such as going to work.
- Shift and Reset: as soon as possible after a stress reaction or challenging situation by shifting into a more coherent state to minimize energy drains.
- Sustain: your resilience throughout the day by establishing regular practices to refresh your composure between activities.
Individuals will become educated on HeartMath techniques that will be utilized within the above strategies. Techniques that were developed for varying situations that one would encounter from day to day. The techniques can be used at home, on the go, and can be enhanced by technology. The HeartMath system utilizes technological tools such as the emWAVE and Inner Balance for the iPhone to provide instant biofeedback on your level of coherency. The technology collects and translates heart rhythm patterns into user-friendly graphics. Through coherence techniques, exercises and playing games, the system helps you create a coherent state, build resilience, increase energy and promote focus, mental clarity and emotional balance. The beauty within the techniques and technology tools is simplicity. Simply place the sensor to your ear or finger, focus your mind on making the small light on the emWave/Inner Balance turn from red, to blue, to green. Once it turns green, you’re in a state of high coherence – more resilience and less depleting stress.
The DHF Clinic’s Recovery Zone is fully equipped with the HeartMath tools to integrate the techniques to have you performing optimal in life and sport.
Jay Morgan, FAFS, HM Coach