Ashley walks in the door, “Hey babe, I didn’t hear from you so I went ahead and picked up some take-out in case you don’t want to cook tonight.” Jason snaps back, “What do you mean I don’t want to cook? Don’t I cook every night? You have no idea how many things I have going on. Perplexed, she replies, “I am trying to be helpful because you have been so busy.”
It’s likely that most of us have had the experience of being stressed and having our emotions spill out onto innocent bystanders – leaving us feeling awful later.
If we were to filter out the day’s accumulated stress, what Mark likely would have said is, “Sorry I didn’t get back with you, things got really hectic today, so this is perfect, thank you.” Being more connected in the heart he would have registered the caring gesture.
When stress has a chance to accumulate it can hang over us like a thick fog preventing us from thinking, perceiving and speaking from our authentic self. Without meaning to, the stored stress clouds our perceptions and twists words and actions into misunderstandings.
The science of being stressed-off goes something like this. Stress leads to chaos in the heart’s rhythms, which affects our body in a number of ways, including our brains ability to think clearly, make good decisions and communicate well.
When we’re overwhelmed what we say often reflects the stress build-up we’re feeling. It can carry over from earlier situations compromising our ability to genuinely connect with others. As a result our interactions become more mechanical and run low on care.
This explanation is attributed to the amazing research being conducted by our sister organization, the HeartMath Institute. The best part of this clinical look at stress is how positive emotions can reverse the unwanted effects of stress.
Emotions like care and appreciation create “coherence” in the heart’s rhythms, which is reflected by its ordered pattern. As the brain synchs to this rhythm, emotional stress is released. Coherence adds clarity to our mental performance and our communications. Even our intuitive sensitivities are keener – meaning we’re more likely to know when it’s time to pause to reset our coherence, and we’re less likely to utter regretful comments to others.
Another worthy note from the Institute’s work is how we can re-pattern trigger responses to stress with calmer, more poised responses as we practice building heart-coherence.
Experiment with these simple ideas. They take no more than a few moments to do and can help reduce the stress build-up:
- Schedule three heart-coherence breaks a day, making them 2 to 4 minute each. Use one break in the morning before the day starts. The next can be around mid-day. Use the third break towards end of the day to clear any lingering stress. (Be kind and gentle with yourself and avoid being self-critical.)
- Practice this 2-step Quick Coherence® Technique provided below. Use this for the coherence breaks. It helps release overwhelm and stress and builds a resilience reservoir to increase emotional flexibility.
- If overwhelm starts to creep in, refer back to the steps of the Quick Coherence Technique and reset. Remember to take the day in small segments. Focusing on one thing at a time rather than letting the mind run away with worry about all there is to do.
- Increase self-confidence as you build these skills by employing the Inner Balance™ or emWave2® technologies. They both help provide a solid sense of what coherence feels like. Satisfying both the mind and the heart, these tech tools allow us to see and feel our coherence progress.
Steps for Quick Coherence® Technique:
Step 1: Focus your attention in the area of the heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual. Suggestion: Inhale 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds (or whatever rhythm is comfortable)
Step 2: Make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Suggestion: Try to re-experience the feeling you have for someone you love, a pet, a special place, an accomplishment, etc. or focus on a feeling of calm or ease.