Stress and the heart

Welcome to my Lab – So let’s continue our ongoing quest of forging the shield and have a closer look at the organ that’s probably most affected by all these emotions surrounding us in these weird times – and spoiler alert, it is not the brain by itself, nor the adrenals, it is the heart.

Since our reptilian brain aka alligator mind is getting triggered these days on an unseen frequency by all the stuff happening around us, the chances are high you are constantly in a sympathetic mode. Since this is probably one of the most damaging things that can happen to your shield lets have a quick look at whats going on and how you diagnose and maybe even fix this.

First of all the so called sympathicus or reptilian brain has been responsible for our survival as a species. Possibly our species made the transition to what we nowadays call Homo sapiens (even though I’m not so sure that the title we gave ourselves is necessarily appropriate) – it is the little alligator in our mind securing the fight or flight response.

Unfortunately the Alligator has no idea about the difference between fake news and real threats, therefore whenever something reaches the brain, that could be cumbersome, the alligator releases a little portion of adrenaline into our system, to get us ready for whatever scares us. For the heart the presence of adrenaline is needed to increase the blood pressure, raise the heart rate and get ready for serious trouble. This still makes sense sometimes, BUT if this becomes chronic, we are close to the complete breakdown of the shield aka burn out, since too much demand for adrenaline will wear out the adrenal glands. Even before this happens we are more or less constantly poised for battle and getting even more addicted to all the bad news. And if the news is not bad enough, we might find some alternative news nowadays that pushes the system even further into a danger zone.

So before you end up with a broken shield and a seriously impaired hormone system, you need to:
1. Evaluate where you are in terms of (unconscious) stress and anxiety.
2. Find a way to fix this even without being able to fix the underlying causes aka the stuff that happens but is completely out of our control.

Over the last few years for me the heart rate variability (HRV) has become the indicator for all kinds of stress. Simplified the higher the HRV the more relaxed you are. If you have close to zero HRV, chances are high you are really stressed out and so on.

For measuring the HRV there are different approaches and devices, in case you want to hear or read more please google an article by Jay T. Wiles, otherwise I would suggest use either the HRV function of the Apple watch, the Moments feature on the Oura ring or invest in something like HeartMath. Once you have a standard system for tracking your HRV, you can establish a standard procedure to find stressors and learn how to eliminate these. Often a temporary absence from (social) media is already the solution.

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