The Cost of Financial Stress
The news of the day still reminds us of economic troubles across the land. Meanwhile, millions who struggle beneath the weight of financial burdens press on with their lives, many living paycheck to paycheck and cutting corners to keep food on the table. The tremendous strain of financial worries breaches the bonds of marriage and tears families apart, costs billions each year in lost workplace productivity and billions more in medical costs. It leads to headaches, high blood pressure, serious cardiac problems and a range of other medical problems.
Many who are buried in credit card and other debt give up and file for bankruptcy, ignore the bill collectors or simply walk away, but the majority of people suffer silently, enduring a relentless buildup of stress that saps their energy, motivation and quality of life, weakening their immune system and eroding their spirit.
Negative Response, Positive Response
There is a daunting and vicious cycle high levels of stress can set in motion, and breaking its hold can be as elusive as eliminating crushing debt. The cycle begins when negative emotional responses to stressful events and situations, such as those related to troubling finances, are repeated and become imprinted on our brainís circuitry. When similar future events and situations occur, perhaps something as simple as receiving an overdue payment notice in the mail, the brain seeks an emotional response. If you donít intentionally provide an alternative, and the common learned response pattern has been negative Ė anger, anxiety, depression, etc. Ė guess what response the brain will trigger. Sadly, the negative-response cycle is reinforced Ė again.
You can, however, work the brainís efficiency to your advantage if you remember that you are the master programmer. What if you were to consciously remember that the last time you received an overdue bill notice or came up short before payday or had some other financial worry, you became angry, depressed, felt overwhelmed or experienced another negative reaction you donít wish to repeat? Well, with a little practice, you can reprogram your brainís circuitry and your heart can help. Thatís right, your heart can help. Researchers at the Institute of HeartMath have made some important discoveries over the years about your heart:
The human heart possesses a vast intuitive wisdom and intelligence that guides us, but the many distractions of our lives, the stresses we are under and the emotional imbalance that so often rules us can leave us disconnected and unaware of that power.
Reconnecting With Your Heart
HeartMathís tools and technology can help you reconnect with your heart wisdom and intelligence by teaching you heart-rhythm coherence. This is the state in which your heart-rhythm patterns are smooth and ordered such as you might see in an electrocardiogram. In a state of coherence, stress chemical pathways reverse, paving the way for increased synchronization between the heart and brain.
When you focus on intentional emotions such as caring and compassion while in this synchronized state, which athletes call being “in the zone,” you can achieve optimal mental clarity, which means making better choices; react to stressful events and situations in positive ways; and find calm amid the sometimes dizzying pace of the world around you.
A HeartMath Tip: Cut-Thru: This simple exercise, adapted from the HeartMath Cut-Thruģ technique, can help you achieve emotional coherence and gradually release the accumulated anxiety caused by financial stress.
- Be aware of how you feel about an issue at hand.
- Breathe a positive feeling or attitude.
- Be objective, as if the issue or problem is someone elseís.
- Rest peacefully in this neutral state, allowing your heart intelligence to offer new perspectives and possibilities.
- Soak and relax all resistances and disturbing or perplexing feelings in your heartís compassion.
- Ask for guidance, then be patient and receptive. While awaiting an answer from the heart find something or someone to genuinely appreciate.
In-depth details and a discussion about the Cut-Thru technique can be found in a number of HeartMath materials, including the book Transforming Anxiety for Overcoming Fear and Worry and Creating Serenity, by Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman.
Benefits of Reducing Stress
The harsh effects of high levels of stress are well documented by researchers and health organizations worldwide. Taking even a few minutes each day to reduce it can help you in so many ways, including the following:
- Improved health, feeling of well-being
- Improved outlook, hopefulness about your circumstances
- Greater mental clarity, more effective decision-making
- More energy during the day, rest at night
- Greater patience with yourself, others
- Less irritability, fewer angry responses
- More heartfelt feelings like caring and appreciation
- Get more enjoyment out of life
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