By Steven Johnson, D.O.
Have you had a stress test lately? Do you have three or more of the symptoms?
Loss of sense of humor?
Worry with anxiety about the future or resignation about life?
Excessive eating, drinking, and mood altering stimulants?
Forgetfulness and mental block?
Chronic muscle aches and joint pains?
Nervousness with impulsive behaviors and feelings of being stuck in the past?
Fatigue and lack of restful sleep?
Chronic allergies and frequents sickness?
Always feel under pressure, not enough time?
If you have three or more of these symptoms you may be suffering from chronic stress. Several researchers have concluded that it is our perception of stressful events, not the events themselves that cause the physiological reactions and symptoms of stress. Over the last sixteen years HeartMath® researchers have taken this a step further. They have found that it is our emotional response to these perceptions that triggers stress related damage in our bodies. For instance the pressures of inadequate time are a frequent perception of stress most of us experience.
But it is the prolonged “feeling” of not having enough time that triggers stress on our hormones and cardiovascular system and other problems of stress related dysfunction in the body. This manifests in common negative behaviors such as anxiety, frustration and a sense of being overwhelmed to name a few. The inability to recognize and healthfully address these negative feelings is a primary cause of the modern stress epidemic; an epidemic which is gaining acceptance as a contributor to major chronic diseases: such as cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances (weight gain), memory loss and immune stress.
HeartMath’s® research, which has been published in over thirty peer-reviewed medical journals including the American Journal of Cardiology, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Stress Medicine, Journal of Advancement in Medicine and many others, demonstrates that our ability to change negative patterns of emotional response to stress can be replaced with positive responses which clearly reduce our body’s risk of stress related illness. In fact when practiced successfully there is a measurable symbiosis of heart and brain wave pattern that occurs. This is a coordinated, focused and practice-based method developing new thinking and emotional patterns over a period of time. For most individuals these changes in mind and body are experienced as spiritual and physical in nature. Reductions in stress not only reduce illness but improve mental performance and vitality. HeartMath® techniques are universal to all walks of life and focus on measuring your ability to develop positive emotional responses to stress. These stress reduction techniques change not only our emotions but also our breathing patterns, heart function and brainwave patterns.
There are several HeartMath® books (www.heartmath.com or www.heartmath.org) including: Transforming Stress, Transforming Anxiety, Transforming Depression by Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., The HeartMath Solution, by Doc Childre and Howard Martin, The HeartMath Approach to Managing Hypertension: The Proven, Natural Way to Lower Your Blood Pressure by Bruce C. Wilson, MD and Doc Childre and Licensed HeartMath Providers that are trained to assist people with these stress management techniques. Both authors have seen many beneficial results for us, and our friends and patients (Pleased be advised these techniques are not a replacement for professional psychiatric or psychological support when needed).
More and more evidence demonstrates the cardiovascular benefits of these and related practices of stress reduction. HeartMath’s® programs are being utilized to improve health and enhance performance at Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Mayo Clinic, Scripps Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, UCLA Medical Center, Hewlett Packard, Unilever, Duke Medical Center, NASA ,BP, Shell, and other large corporations and their work has been featured on ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, PBS and The Discovery Channel, The Harvard Business Review, The Wall St. Journal, USA Today, CNN.com, the New York Times, Golf Digest, and more.
When we combine our ability to treat stress effectively with newly available cardiovascular markers for disease we believe there is particular potential for improved prevention of cardiovascular disease. Many new cardiovascular markers are becoming affordable and available for higher risk patients who allow doctors to get a better picture of cardiovascular risk and effective treatments. A good website to read about some of these tests can be found at www.bhlinc.com (for Berkley Heart labs) which we use in our office presently. Longevity with good physical and mental health allows us to contribute more to our families, friends, churches and communities and is the goal we can all strive for together. But it starts with taking care of ourselves and paying attention to how we choose to live. Learning to act creatively and spiritually is a practice of overcoming reaction to our worldly stress. If your new year’s resolution includes reducing stress and improving your health then many of these ideas may prove helpful!
Image from: stayhealthyla.org
For more information about HeartMath Coaching contact Kimberly May, Licensed HeartMath® Provider/Wellness coach at The Multicare Centre for Integrative Medicine (502) 593-9017 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email www.multicarecentre.com
Steven M. Johnson, D.O., is a physician who specializes in Integrative/Internal medicine. You can reach him at 21st Century Medicine 812-282-4309 or The Multicare Centre for Integrative Medicine 502-426-8666 DrJ@21stcenturymed.net.