Overcoming Stress - It's a Matter of the Heart
5 Simple Practices to Break the Stress Loop
Stress - we've all been there at some point or another, right? In fact, it's almost unavoidable in today's fast-paced, production orientated, multitasking, attention-grabbing world.
It's not that stress is a bad thing, in fact, short bursts were imperative to our survival as a race during the prehistoric era. The problem lies in periods of prolonged chronic stress. This is when stress shifts from being helpful, to being harmful.
The Physiological Mechanics of Stress
When we experience stress, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and gears us up for survival. In simpler terms, we move into fight or flight mode.
On a hormonal level, cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline are released into the bloodstream, mobilizing a massive amount of energy, giving us the best chance of avoiding danger and surviving the perceived threat.
These days, however, there are no saber-tooth tigers or dire wolves to fight off. Yet as a collective we are more stressed out than ever.
The Emotional and Energetic Impacts of Stress
We all have an electromagnetic field; an invisible area of energy, which surrounds our entire body. This electromagnetic field originates from our heart and emotions and can be felt by the nervous system of other people and animals. We literally vibrate our inner world, on the outside.
If we primarily exist in survival emotions like stress, anxiety, fear or worry we draw from this invisible field of energy, and our electromagnetic field decreases. The more intense the stress, the more energy we consume.
If however, we cultivate higher vibrational states like love, joy, compassion, and gratitude then this energy field in turn expands.
Another side-effect of prolonged periods of stress is that we begin to lose touch with our feelings, emotions, and senses. Our ability to access our intuition and inner wisdom diminishes. When our heart and brain are firing incoherently, our mind will often favor ego's choices that reinforce separation rather than unity, because excess amounts of stress hormones wire us for survival.
On the flip side, when we are in a harmonious heart state, through the cultivation of emotions such as kindness, love, and appreciation our heart sends a signal to our brain causing it to become more coherent. Because our heart is a sensory organ that guides our decision-making process, when we consistently experience higher vibrational emotions, we tend to make more evolved choices that support the highest outcome for all concerned.
Breaking the Stress Loop
If you're stuck on the stress hamster wheel, how do you get off it?
The key to breaking the stress loop lies in, you guessed it, creating heart coherence - AKA mastering our inner world. Below I have included five practical and easy to implement steps, which will empower you to bust through the stress loop that is keeping you stuck.
1. Don't sleep with your phone next to your bed
If you sleep with your phone next to your bed, what's the first thing you are likely to do when you wake up?
Grab it, and check your messages or the world latest news disaster. Straight from the outset of your day, your energy and attention are focused externally.
First thing in the morning is the best time to go inwards because we have increased access to our subconscious mind on waking. It's a perfect time take some heart-breaths (see step two), be present, set your intentions, express gratitude, and cultivate higher emotional states.
Five minutes will do it, but if you've got longer great. By committing to spending at least the first five minutes of your day focusing on your inner reality, you will begin to experience the world from the inside out - rather than the outside in.
When we meditate, the brain moves from Beta into Alpha and Theta creating a connection between our conscious and subconscious minds. We can then access more of our inner wisdom and guidance.
Most of us don't have an hour to spare to sit in meditation. That's OK. Again five minutes is a great start. If you haven't meditated before and don't know where to begin, the HeartMath Institute, who have dedicated 30+ years to researching the intelligence of the heart, recommend this potent yet straightforward heart breath meditation.
Take your attention to your heart area and breathe directly into your heart for a count of five. On the out breath, release your breath through your heart for a count of five. Repeat.
This simple practice creates a pathway between your heart and mind so they can begin to work in unison, while also cultivating a high vibrational state of being.
3. Be impeccable with your thoughts
Every single thought we have carries its own frequency. Our thoughts create our emotions. Our emotions determine our heart coherence and electromagnetic field, which in turn creates our reality.
It stands to reason then, if we are thinking negative thoughts, we will experience negative emotions and will fail to draw the experiences we genuinely desire to us.
If however, our thoughts are positive, we will experience higher vibrational emotions and will draw more of the experiences we want to us.
So how do we break out of a negative thought cycle? Pattern interrupters are fantastic for this! Grab yourself a hair tie or rubber band and place it on your wrist. Every time you catch yourself in an unconscious negative thought pattern, snap it on your wrist. It doesn't hurt, but it is enough to interrupt and shift negative thought loops.
4. Take a self-imposed social media and technology detox
The increase in connection through social media and technology has in part brought us together; however, people are reportedly experiencing more separation than ever. The dichotomy of it all!
I highly recommend taking a self-imposed hiatus. It might be spending every Sunday phone free, or committing to turning your phone off every day from 7 pm to 7 am. Whatever it looks like, make it work for you. It's amazing how much more clarity and connection we experience when we aren't being bombarded by constant distractions.
5. Be in the NOW and let it go
Most of us miss the present moment, because we are too busy thinking about a past experience, or worrying about a potential future drama.
We create stress in our body simply by thinking about a past stressful event. When we continue to re-live past experiences, it creates an emotional and physical reaction in our body. We then carry this prior experience into our future and keep producing the same pattern loops in our life.
Ever heard someone say 'why does this always happen to me'?
It's because they are stuck in a pattern loop. When we are fully present there is no past or future, there is only now. The more time we spend in the now, the less likely we are to continue to create the same patterns over and over.
How do we become present? Well, the previous four steps are all geared towards cultivating presence. However, I'm going to add one more thing.
Get into nature on a regular basis.
Nature's beauty has the power to pull us into the present moment. So at least once a week, pencil in a nature expedition and allow your senses to be awakened.
Leaving our happiness and peace to chance is risky business. By consistently putting into use the above five practices, you will no longer be pushed and pulled by your external reality, but instead will become master of your world through cultivating heart and mind coherence.