How are you getting on three weeks into lockdown? Maybe you are one of those working from home like me or on the front-line. Wherever you are it’s likely that you have experienced some stress worrying about catching covid-19 from those you are helping or how to keep your business afloat or when you will see your family again. It’s an exceptional time which is leading to exceptional stress levels. When we experience stress our Autonomic Nervous System (which does all the things we don’t have to think about) goes into overdrive. It’s that part of us that gets us ready to fight or flight. A hormone called cortisol is released and you feel your heart rate going up. This is helpful if you need to run away or fight a wild animal but not good if it is in the system for too long. It also leads to chaotic heart rhythms. In contrast, when we naturally experience positive emotions our hearts go into a coherent, calmer state. The good news is I can show you how to self-generate more of this balanced state.
When we create adrenaline and cortisol in the body it starts to go out of balance, and this has an effect on the brain. The part of your brain that helps you to self-regulate i.e. the pre-frontal cortex goes off-line. And, at the same time, chaotic signals go to up to the part of the brain called the amygdala, the home of the fight, flight emotions. We can effectively hack into our ANS and shift our heart rhythms back into balance by getting a state of coherence. This sends different information to the brain, and, once the stress centre receives the information, it then de-activates and the PFC comes back online.
So, what is coherence? It is a measurable, scientific state when the heart and brain synchronise. The result is that you feel in balance and have an increased capacity to be in control of yourself. I am going to teach you a very quick and easy technique that you can do anytime and anywhere that will help to calm down your system. You can do this eyes open and, in the moment, when you notice you are experiencing stress. It is an optimal state of being. This technique is called heart-centred breathing. You start by focusing your attention in the area of your heart – it can help to put your hand on your hand and bring all your awareness to this spot. Imagine your breath flowing in and out of your heart area a little slower and deeper than usual. Some tips:
- Breathing through your nose as nasal breathing kills bugs, more oxygen, synchronises heart and brain. Creates a workout for the heart and lungs
- Balanced – experiment with 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out.
- Smooth and sustained
- Relaxed belly
Just remember to do it!
Stay safe, have a wonderful Easter in whatever innovative way you are creating for yourself and your family!
Lindsey Agness and Team NLP x