(Click play to have us read you this lesson)
Stress is such an everyday word now. Are the current times more stressful than those of yesterday? Why is this happening? How can we rid ourselves of stress? There so many resources for dealing with stress, right at our fingertips, and yet it is still with us. There must be logical answers for this conundrum.
You have answers in YOU. Today, most people are living life from their minds, never taking time to rest in their heart. The mind keeps us in a steady stream of things to do, things we want and things for which we strive, leaving very little time to relax; or to cultivate a relationship of inner peace; the peace that is found by resting in your heart.
Stress is not created by your “perception” of the events occurring in your life, it’s created by your emotional “response” to those events. Stress is created by our emotions which flood our bodies with chemicals. If you could stop yourself from feeling, there would be an immediate reduction of stress. Personally, I am glad we cannot remove our ability to feel. What’s important here is this. There several ways for you to begin to manage your emotions. By managing your emotions at the onset, the stress does not accumulate in you. Your body can be a passive, aggressive little creature. It will let you build and build stress then, suddenly, the smallest thing will cause a “meltdown.”
One of the interesting things about stress, is that our minds can create imaginary situations and we in turn play them out like they are real and in the moment.
When you begin to feel stress building, ask yourself “Is what I’m stressing over real?” If it’s not happening right now, in this moment, try to set down those thoughts and feelings. Take a mental step back.
Feeling like we don’t have enough time, or that we don’t have control, are two common causes of stress. By no means are these the only contributors of stress in our lives but they are two big players in that arena. Time seems to be speeding up. Our expectation of how fast things should happen is at an all time high. There is an old saying “Patience is a Virtue.” Today, we find that patience is, indeed, a rare quality. Slowing down and giving yourself time to breathe will reduce the pressure you are placing on you. Examine where you feel a need to control. Do you really need to manage the outcome of so many things? This small exercise can bring balance to your life. Often the petitions you hold in your mind amount to nothing. In fact, in our lives, we have very few things over which we actually have control. The sooner you let life be, as it is, the sooner you will gain peace.
The Heart of the Matter
So, first things first. Lets get to the heart of the matter.
Modern scientific discoveries about the heart are mind boggling. We now know that the heart is much more than a pump. The heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. There is a direct neural pathway from the heart to the brain. The heart provides sensory feedback to our brain, which can affect our emotions. Our emotions can affect the heart and the heart can affect our emotions. It’s a two-way street. By moving your attention and breathing, to your heart, you can change your emotional state. This brings relaxation and returns you to a state of calm. For more information about the heart you can go to the HeartMath website. https://www.heartmath.org/resources/downloads/science-of-the-heart/
Connecting with your Heart
Three Step Quick Coherence Technique
From Heart Math Institute
Step 1 – Heart Focus: Gently focus your attention to the centre of your chest. (in the area of your heart) Placing your hand over your heart can help. If your mind wanders, as it very well may, just gently shift your attention back to the area of your heart.
Step 2 – Heart Focused Breathing: As you focus on your heart area, imagine your breath is flowing in and out through that area. This helps your mind stay focused in the heart area. Breathe slowly and deeply, count 5 in and then 5 out. Continue until you become calm.
Step 3 – Heart Feeling: Recall a positive feeling by remembering a time when you felt loved and try to re-experience it. You can remember a beautiful place in nature that you like to visit, or a person you love or care for, a pet or a favourite activity. Bring these feelings into your heart area as you breathe easily and deeply.
Practice the Quick Coherence steps for a few minutes at first, then increase the length of time as you become more comfortable with the process.
Click Play on player to player to hear more about the Coherence Technique
The Three Step Quick Coherence Technique will help:
Stop the impact of stress on your body.
Disrupt intrusive thoughts or images.
Eliminate the energy drain.
Remove the drama or significance of a situation.
Emotional intelligence[i] plays a huge role in our ability to regulate emotions and to decrease stress. Being able to flow between the banks of high and low emotions gives us power over the stressful events in our life.
Example: Your emotional response to a flat tire while driving to work is entirely up to you. One person will perceive and respond with no emotion while another might respond with anger. Some might even stay angry all day, assigning undue drama to the situation. You alone, are responsible for how you react. By not allowing your emotions to control you and owning your reactions, you create a healthier balance.
Similar to the lesson: I can’t stop thinking, we can let go of our emotions just as we learned to let go of our thoughts. Our emotions are very much like our thoughts. They may not be real, true or even our own. We could be misreading what we feel or we could be feeling someone elses’ emotions.
Layers of Emotion
Often our emotions are layered. What you initially feel may not be the entire truth. Your first emotion may be a partial truth. When you look more closely there is a deeper and more honest feeling that offers a greater insight into what you are feeling. Also, like our thoughts, sometimes we are told what to feel.
The Danger of Emotions
If we allow our emotions to get out of check, we may experience an emotional hijacking[ii]. An emotional hijacking is when the limbic area[iii] of your brain goes into overdrive. This causes restricted access to logical, cognitive faculties. Knowing this tells you, when you begin to feel overwhelmed by your emotions, it’s important to breathe and refrain from talking until your high emotions calm down. Once you have calmed down, you can then respond to the situation with greater ease and logic. This simple and practical advice will be a valuable tool when you feel a temper tantrum boiling up. Just know in that moment, during an emotional hijacking, you will have very little access to rational thinking processes. You may regret your words or actions.
It takes time to master the concepts shared in this lesson. The idea is that you do your best; work with these tools to help you lower your stress.
You are more powerful than you may realize
and always remember,
a willing heart finds nothing impossible.
- Take a moment and review a typical day in your life. Where does your time go? This is a great reflection you can do to help yourself free up some of your time so you don’t feel like you don’t have enough time.
- Start by taking some time to look at all the things you feel you need to control. Are there things that you can let go of? Where are to out of balance with your need to control things in your life?
- Practice the Three Step Quick Coherence Technique for 20 minutes, eyes closed, at least three times a day. If you feel 20 minutes is too long, start with 5 minutes at a time. It would be great if you could work up to an hour at a time.
- Practice letting go of your emotions. When a feeling comes up for you set it down. Doing this teaches you don’t have to be controlled by your emotions. You can choose to set down what you feel whenever you choose.
- Next time you feel your emotions arise, ask yourself, “Is this really what I’m feeling?” Is there a deeper feeling attached to what your feeling? Example: I used to get angry over just about everything. If I felt embarrassed, I was angry. If I felt hurt, I was angry. There were deeper emotions happening but I stayed at the surface and remained angry.
- Practice the Three Step Quick Coherence Technique at lease three times a day with your eyes open.
- Read the lesson about loving yourself and do that homework.
[i] Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence
[ii] Emotional hijacking was first called Amygdala hijack, a term coined by Daniel Goleman.
[iii] The area of the brain that regulates emotions
Edited By Joanne Harman
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