Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reducing Stress

Stress has a significant impact on health. Dr.Rollin McCraty, at the HeartMath Institute, and other researchers have found evidence that suggest there is an important link between emotions and the descending and ascending autonomic activity. According to McCraty, “These changes lead to dramatic changes in the pattern of the heart’s rhythm, often without any change in the amount of heart rate variability. Specifically, we have found that during emotions such as anger, frustration, or anxiety, heart rhythms become more erratic and disordered, indicating less synchronization in the reciprocal action that ensues between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. In contrast, sustained positive emotions, such as appreciation, love, or compassion, are associated with highly ordered or coherent patterns in the heart rhythms.”
With this research, they are beginning to understand the role played by afferent (ascending) neural signals, which flow from the heart and body to the brain. Extensive experimental data have been gathered documenting the role played by the afferent input from the heart in modulating such various processes as pain perception, hormone production, electrical cortical activity, and cognitive functions.
Research from the HeartMath Institute supports a systems-oriented model of emotion that includes the heart, brain, and the nervous and hormonal systems as fundamental components of a dynamic, interactive network that underlies the emergence of emotional experience. Within the body, many processes provide constant rhythmic inputs with which the brain is familiar. Included in this input are the heart’s rhythmic activity, digestive, respiratory, and hormonal rhythms, and patterns of muscular tension, particularly facial expressions. These inputs are continually monitored by the brain and help organize perception, feelings and behavior. These patterns form a stable reference pattern. When an input is sufficiently different from the familiar reference pattern, this mismatch underlies the generation of feelings and emotions.
When an input to the brain does not meet the existing program, an adjustment must be made in an attempt to return to stability. One way to establish control is an outward action. For example, a confrontation at home with a family member may lead to feelings of anger, which can prompt inappropriate behavior. Through internal adjustments we can self-manage our feelings in order to inhibit these responses. If we are not able to manage our emotions then feelings of anxiety, panic, hopelessness, annoyance, or depression result. It is through practice of techniques like “Freeze Frame,” that inputs can be viewed as optimistic and hopeful.

Seven /Steps to Reduce Pain and Stress

Take a short emotional vacation by using the Freeze Frame Technique explained below. Positive emotions can help you replace negative, stressful thought patterns and feelings with more positive perceptions and emotions in the moment you need them most. It is so easy to do.

1.When you are feeling stressed, have anxiety or panic, or are facing a problem, describe your feeling in one word. Examples could be anxious, fearful, afraid,
confused, angry, frustrated, sad, disgusted, enraged, overwhelmed, lonely, victimized or depressed.
2. Now, shift your attention to the area around your heart. Imagine yourself breathing in through your heart—breathe in to the count of five, breathe out to the count of five. Continue doing this for several minutes.
3. Think of a positive feeling—the love you have for a child or grandchild. Try to experience that positive feeling and send that positive feeling or love to someone else. You may want to think of a positive experience or place where you have felt serenity, peace or laughter. Work on recapturing that feeling right now.
4. Go back to step number two and again breathe in through your heart to the count
of five and then breathe out to the count of five through your solar plexus while
still experiencing the positive feelings.

5. Ask yourself what would be good answer to your problem or a helpful attitude to
balance and de-stress your mind and body. If possible, write it down. Heart perceptions and intuitions are often subtle. They gently suggest effective
solutions for you and all concerned with the problem.
6, Sense any change to your original stress as noted in step number one. Write it down and sustain the positive feeling as long as you can.
7. Repeat these steps as often as needed.

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