By Betty Murray
When the stress and anxiety sets in, how do you cope? Exercise, food, alcohol, sleep, meditation — all of these are common coping mechanisms for stress. Many of these are not however healthy methods of coping with stress. If you turn to food or alcohol to reduce stress, you are setting yourself up for addiction and the negative effects food or substance addiction can have on your body.
Exercise, meditation and focused breathing are all healthier alternatives for coping with stress. But do they really work?
According to Dr. Deborah Rozman of HeartMath, breathing through your heart is a highly successful — and healthy — technique used to reduce stress. HeartMath is a company providing “scientifically-validated and market-validated tools and technologies that activate the intelligence and power of the heart to dramatically reduce stress.”
The HeartMath heart-focused breathing technique is a method of refocusing attention and energy on the heart, releasing stress and anxiety through the heart. Skeptical? Next time you find yourself stressed, anxious, or just needing to “chill,” try the HeartMath heart-focused breathing technique. Follow these steps:
- 1. Focus on the area of the heart. Let go of what you’ve been thinking or doing that is causing you stress or anxiety. Imagine that your breath is flowing into your body through the area of your heart and out through your heart.
- 2. Focus on someone or something that evokes positive feelings of appreciation or gratitude. Take energy away from undesirable emotions, and place your energy on positive, desirable emotions.
- 3. Feel the stress and anxiety melt away.
The heart-focused breathing technique literally changes the rhythm of the heart, calming your autonomous nervous system. By focusing on the heart, you are releasing negative feelings and emotions, and replacing them with positive feelings, says Dr. Rozman. The HeartMath technique can help relieve everyday stress, anger and anxiety.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.