I will be the first to admit it: I don’t always react positively to stress.
I’ve always admired those who could stay calm while surrounded by complete chaos. You know the people I’m talking about: the ones who rush to any emergency clear-headed and immediately know what to do. The ones who exude a calm energy no matter what kind of craziness is happening around them.
I’ve never been that type. I have always been a bit more like a live wire where even the tiniest setback can turn my whole being into one big stress bomb. I’m more the type who climbs into bed at the first sign of trouble and stays there until whatever danger/stress/discomfort has passed (and then a bit longer just to be sure). I’m more the type who works myself into such a huge tizzy over anything remotely stressful that it takes me a long, long time to settle down and experience equilibrium again.
As many of you know, my lack of stress management led me to severe adrenal fatigue. For years and years, I was constantly in fight or flight mode, and finally my adrenal glands told me one morning a year ago that they were done – that I was on my own – that they were going on an extended vacation. And I’ve been lying on the couch ever since.
It’s an interesting thing to be bedridden for this long. It’s brought up all sorts of things for me internally. I’ve had a lot of time to explore how I got to this space and why I got to this space and what I can do to get out of this space and finally coming to accept this space and be grateful for this space and allow myself simply to be in this space.
During this time, I’ve tried so many different gadgets and vitamins and healing techniques – anything that would help me to feel better again. Some of them worked and others didn’t do much at all. One of these days, I’m going to put it all into an ebook for those who are also going through something similar with the hopes that it will help. But for now, I wanted to share a tool that I just recently came across that I already love and that is already helping me in huge ways. It’s called the emWave, and it’s a stress-management device that the HeartMath company created.
This device was mentioned in almost every book on adrenal fatigue that I had read over the past year. I shied away from it for a couple of reasons: the price and also that it seemed too easy and simple. I wondered how this little gadget could truly help bring me from a place of stress to a place of calm.
But, a few weeks ago, it came up yet again in another book that I was reading, and something inside asked me to give it a try. So I did. And I’m so glad.
While I’m not a scientist and don’t know a ton about how it works or why it works, I do know that it measures your heart rate variability, which are the time-intervals between each heartbeat.
Here’s what HeartMath says about it:
Whenever we are stressed, these time-intervals become jagged and irregular, sending a chaotic pattern throughout our body. And we feel this: our body becomes tense. HeartMath has done a lot of research on the effect of emotions on our body and when we experience positive emotions such as care, gratitude, appreciation and compassion, those time-intervals in our Heart Rate Variability Pattern become very smooth and sine-wave like. This creates a much more orderly and balanced pattern in our internal systems, creating a state of coherence. We experience this as a more calm, harmonious state.
The emWave analyzes your heart rhythms for “coherence,” a term used by scientists to describe a highly efficient physiological state in which the nervous system, cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems are working efficiently and harmoniously.
It has 3 lights: red, blue, and green. Red basically means that you’re in a stressed state, blue means that you’re moving up, and green means that you’re completely present and calm. There are two ways to use it: either by putting your thumb over the sensor or by wearing an ear piece that clips on to sense your heartbeat.
The first time I tried it, I was in a really good mood. It was the end of a great day, and I was feeling better than I had in months. I was happy to see that the light immediately went to green, and it stayed there for a few minutes. Until my cat attacked my other cat (something that unfortunately happens several times a day and is always really stressful). The light immediately went to red – showing how quickly one little incident could take me away from a place of peace. This part didn’t surprise me because I could feel how tense my body was. But what did surprise me is what happened next: normally, I would have stayed in that place and felt really angry about the fight and complain about it and get even more angry. But this time, I wanted to bring the light back to green – it became almost a game. And so I breathed along with the pacer that is part of the device and within just a minute or two I was back in the green.
I continued to test it out over the next few days. If I was in the green, I would think about something stressful to see if it would go down, which it always did. And then I would see how quickly I could bring it back to green again. If I started in the red, I would focus on my breath and watch it go up to blue and then green again once I was calm.
I put it on while working to see if I could remain in the green. And what surprised me was that work itself rarely was what stressed me out – I was almost always in a calm (green light) state when I was working. What brought me to a stressed (red light) state was when I left the present moment – when my thoughts traveled somewhere else (even for just a moment and even if the thought itself wasn’t negative or stressful). This insight has been huge for me since I’m such a multi-tasker. I’m the one who is constantly flipping between windows on my computer hundreds of times a day – doing something for a second and then switching to something else and then switching back. It turns out that my body doesn’t like all of this switching. If I stay on one task (even one that I’m not a huge fan of), I stay in the green.
I’m still in the early stages of learning about this fun tool and seeing how it can help me in the long term, but what I’ve seen already has been life changing. I’ve never been good at meditating – it’s just not a comfortable (or enjoyable) space for me to go to. But the emWave makes calming down a game – sort of a friendly competition within myself to see how quickly I can move into a calm state. (This may sound like a stressful way to do it, but it really feels fun for me!) I look forward to using it, and I always feel really good about myself and my ability to move into a calm state within a short period of time.
There are so many ways for us to minimize our stress. This is just one of the many techniques and tools. But I have to say that so far it’s one of the best that I’ve seen. I’m loving it, and it’s really helping me learn about my own reaction to stress and is helping me get to a calm state and stay there.
And hopefully, in time, I’ll find that staying in that state becomes much easier to do – much like the people I have always admired who just seem to have a positive reaction to stress. I’m hoping that this will be me soon, too. And that is definitely something to smile about (and feel at peace about).
I would also love to hear if you’ve tried it before! Feel free to share in the comments below what your experience has been. You can also feel free to share any other tools and techniques that you use to minimize your stress.
P.S. – If you would like to be part of our next collaborative book, please be sure to sign up now for the waiting list! Our first book sold out very quickly, and so this is a great way to make sure you receive all of the details when early registration opens next month. The book is called 365 Moments of Grace, and it’s going to contain personal stories of grace, miracles, and transformations from beautiful souls all around the world to show how magical our world is and how connected we truly are. Over 150 people have already signed up for the waiting list, which is just wonderful! You can sign up here: http://www.365momentsofgrace.com