Stress Relief Tips
By Sara Childre, HeartMath
My adventure of nourishment started with studying nutrition and becoming a vegetarian back in the early ‘70s in North Carolina when I started a health food restaurant. At that time, not too many people in North Carolina knew much about health foods. I next ventured into being the manager of two privately owned health food stores and studied all aspects of healthy eating and dietary supplements. As I continued to nourish my body I felt I needed something more. Thus, I began my journey of nourishing my heart.
For the past 30 years, I have explored the intelligence of the heart and self-empowerment, discovering which attitudes and perspectives are empowering, leading to balance and fulfillment and which are depleting and stressful. An “Ah ha!” moment was when I truly realized that stress occurred from my perceptions of events and my emotional responses to those perceptions, not from the actual events themselves. Another person can have a completely different perception and response to the issue that was causing me stress.
I began to see that it was my choice in how I would respond to situations. My heart guided me to use HeartMath tools and techniques to learn how to take my perceptions and reactions to a more neutral state and perceive situations through my the heart’s intuitive guidance — leading me to broader perspectives and much less stress. Nourishing the heart — my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual heart — helped me nourish my wholeness.
In this column, which we have named Nourishing the Heart, Deborah Rozman from HeartMath and I will share with you simple ways to nourish your heart with tips and tools to de-stress from the heart and to enhance your well-being, heart-healthy recipes, heart quotes, videos and more. I will also share some of the scientific research on the link between stress and the heart.
Next: 3 Steps to Beating Stress
We felt an appropriate place to start our weekly “Nourishing the Heart” columns was on April 16th, National Stress Awareness Day, and by sharing with you a HeartMath tool called “Notice and Ease™” that helps you identify and neutralize stressful emotions and attitudes that drain energy. By noticing and admitting what you are feeling — anxiety, frustration, tension, etc. and gently focusing on your heart and relaxing as you breathe — you can e-a-s-e out a lot of the stressful feelings. Here are the steps.
Step 1. Notice and admit what you are feeling.
To gain more insight about your emotions, you will need to become more aware of what you are feeling. Noticing and admitting what you are feeling requires slowing down and taking stock. Periodically, throughout the day simply pause and notice how you feel. It takes only a few seconds to ask, “What am I feeling right now?”
Step 2. Try to name the feeling.
Simply by naming the feeling to yourself, whatever it is — worry, anxiety, frustration, hurt, resistance or even a vague disturbance — will help you admit what you are feeling. Being honest about naming what you are feeling helps regulate your emotional energy, slowing down the emotional energy running through your system and giving you more power.
Step 3. Tell yourself to ease…as you gently focus in your heart, relax as you breathe and e-a-s-e the stress out.
As you tell yourself to ease in your heart, relax and ease the stressful emotion out, feel as if the unwanted emotion is leaving your system. Don’t force it out; ease it out. Befriend the reaction by holding it in your heart, then let the feeling ease out of your system.
Use the Notice and Ease Tool for one minute often throughout your day. Keep using the Notice and Ease™ Tool for one minute or longer, until you feel something lighten up, even if you don’t get an immediate, complete release. Quite often you can experience so many feelings within just five minutes. Don’t let this confuse you. Don’t even try to figure out why. Just keep practicing the Notice and Ease™ tool until your energies come back in balance. Then listen to the intuitive guidance of your heart on what to do next.
The early hope of HeartMath founder Doc Childre was to teach people ways to reduce stress and improve health and well-being. That vision and a desire to facilitate a shift in consciousness toward heart-based living drives HeartMath’s mission today and tomorrow. My passion for nourishing the heart on all levels makes my job as president of the Institute of HeartMath for the last twenty years a joy each day. The Institute of HeartMath is an internationally recognized nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to helping people reduce stress, self-regulate emotions and build energy and resilience for healthy, happy lives. HeartMath tools, technology and training teach people to rely on the intelligence of their hearts in concert with their minds at home, school, work and play.
Our hope is that you will continue this journey of nourishing your heart with us. Please leave comments and ask questions. We love input!