Improve Your Health with Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback
In this video, I share a very powerful stress-reduction technique called HeartMath. As we recently discussed in the Science of Gratitude blog post, heart rate variability biofeedback is an excellent way to train your body to be more Zen-like. But the health benefits extend far beyond just feeling calm (more on that later).
Transcendental meditation just didn’t work for me, but I knew I needed to incorporate a daily stress reduction practice to help rewire my stress response (out of fight-or-flight and into rest and digest, or parasympathetic).
In 2010, I discovered HeartMath and my life has never since been the same.
— midnite (@123midnite) December 23, 2014
HeartMath (aka Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback) is essentially a form of paced breathing. When you voluntarily slow down your breath to about six breaths per minute or less, you activate your vagus nerve, which tunes the knob on your stress-thermostat to “calm.”
As we discuss in this video, daily practice of Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback has been scientifically proven to help:
-Overcome food, drug, and alcohol or other substance cravings
-Combat depression and anxiety so that you have more control over your emotions
-Modulate stress to help you better manage stress
-Lose more weight
-Improve your digestion and gut health
-Improve mental performance and cognition
-Reduce the risk of heart disease
Learn More About HeartMath
Visit www.LearnHeartMath.com to learn more
Low heart rate variability is linked with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, poor emotional control, postpartum depression, and more. Regular activation of your vagus nerve helps even out emotions; so even if you don’t experience depression per se, you’ll be more calm and collected during your work outs, business meetings, or when shuffling the kids around.
I recommend purchasing the EMWave 2 device and practicing first thing in the morning for 10 minutes and again before going to bed for another 10 minutes. Find a quiet room in your house. If you have access to Pandora, you can turn on the yoga station. Take a deep inhalation into your belly for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for another four seconds, and repeat. This will get you down to four or five breaths per minute, which will surely get that powerful vagus nerve firing.
I like to envision a big ray of light shining through my heart, and I think of my dogs, daughter, or being in nature. As you breathe, try to think of happy words (love, gratefulness, beauty, fulfillment, strength, etc…). The more you can get into the experience, the more powerful the effect will be on your body.
Often times, after I’ve completed ten minutes of HeartMath, I feel so calm and relaxed, yet clear-headed. This is in contrast to the aftereffects of alcohol and/or drugs, which leave you feeling foggy and groggy.
I would strongly suggest you make a goal in 2015 to incorporate some form of stress-reduction therapy for 10 to 20 minutes per day. I prefer daily heart rate variability biofeedback practice because it gives me real-time feedback, and helps sharpen the mind-body connection.