The Nature of Stress Part II: Change Your Emotional Responses

The last Care 2 post, the Nature of Stress–Part I, discussed two of the key aspects of stress:

  • It is our perception of events and challenges that cause much of our stress.
  • Our emotional responses to our perceptions of events and challenges are key drivers of stress.

Based on those important discoveries, researchers at the Institute of HeartMath began exploring people’s emotional responses to how they perceived various events and situations in their lives. For instance, did they tend to become angry when others said or did things they didn’t like?

The findings along with other IHM research, including the intelligent nature of the human heart, resulted in the discovery that each of us is highly capable of changing our emotional responses. This is a remarkable ability, one that sparked more than two decades at IHM of developing methods for and educating people about changing their emotional responses to experiences in their lives. For example, they developed techniques to help those who become angry over what others do or say to intentionally experience or focus on a positive emotion such as caring, compassion or sincere understanding. Free Services – Tools for Well-being.

In 2005, Transforming Stress, the first in HeartMath’s Transforming Series, stated it this way: “Letting go of a stress habit requires changing your response to stress and modifying the information going through your body’s circuitry.”

The brain interprets stress as a threat to our safety and activates the “fight or flight” response, explain the book’s authors, HeartMath founder Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman, president and CEO of HeartMath Inc.

“This ancient survival mechanism was critical when human beings had to protect themselves from wild animals and marauders,” they said. “Most of our stresses today are not life threatening, yet the body’s stress response system does not accurately discern the degree of threat. We react to daily stress as if it is a matter of survival, and the accumulation of these reactions takes a toll on the body.”

The solution, Childre and Rozman say in Transforming Stress, is to change our stress circuitry, taking “a fast-track approach to managing and relieving stress that clears the emotional memory banks.”

HeartMath development teams have been incorporating IHM stress and emotions research into strategies that help clear those emotional memory banks.

“By using HeartMath techniques,” Transforming Stress explains, “you change your heart rhythms and emotional or attitudinal state, right in the moment when you’re perceiving and feeling stress.”

The heart can clear our emotional memory banks.

Heart rhythms and heart rate variability – the beat-to-beat changes in heart rhythms – provide a highly accurate measure of how each of our various emotions affects us.

The heart possesses what scientists have called a “heart brain.” Like the brain proper, it is vitally engaged in a wide range of bodily processes and activities. So, beyond stress diagrammerely pumping blood through the body, the heart is constantly engaged in gathering a wealth of information the body needs and sending out signals, information, instructions and alerts critical to our health and well-being.

Being able to change in the moment is a tremendous power to possess. Whether you are about to go off, in a funk or headed into an important meeting in the wrong frame of mind, it’s in your power – the power of your heart – to change it. Moreover, Childre and Rozman write, “With practice, new habits are built that transform the old stress circuitry.”

HeartMath has lots of solutions available that can work for you, including its widely used science-based technology. Check out the following Free Services – Solutions for Stress and if you think you’re due for a change in how you respond emotionally to what comes up in your life, try something here for adults and children. Free Services – Tools for Well-being.


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Judy Apelis
Judy A5 years ago

Thank you

Kate S.
Kate S5 years ago

Ty for the links at the bottom!

sandra j.
sandra j5 years ago


Franck Rio
Past Member 5 years ago


Deborah W.
Deborah W5 years ago

Why not just try deep breathing ... decide and name something needed, then speak it and breathe IN ... decide and name something not wanted, then speak it and breathe OUT. Close your eyes and continue until you actually feel like you're expelling, replacing and filling up with only the good stuff. Works for me and provides the day's motivational engine. Worth a try ... just sayin'

Mary B.
Mary B5 years ago

Kath P, sometimes people who blame others for their negative emotions are Empaths who easily pick up the emotions of others and then it feels like it's their own emotion, though there is really no reason to feel that way present in their own life at that time. And some times they are just very immature people who won't accept any responsibility for the part their actions played in a situation. And sometimes they are reacting to the behavior of others based on judgements that have grown from ideas that are flawed to begin with. What can you do to change them? Ask them if they want your help to sort this out. If Yes, then it could become a wonderful learning experience for both of you. If no, they just want to keep blameing and complaining, put them on notice that you are no longer at all interested in what they have to say because you find it irritating and no one is obligated to put up with that. In other words, demonstrate what to do when the source of your irritation REALLY is somebody else's stuff to deal with. This approach works for me, but I resolved a lot of guilt feelings long ago, so if you still feel it's 'not spiritual' to walk away from this and move toward something that feels better, you'll have some work of your own to do. May you have a happy life.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you :)

Carole R.
Carole R5 years ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for sharing