Using Your Heart to Improve Health

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In just minutes a day you can minimize stress, manage pain, control anxiety, lower blood pressure and improve emotional resiliency and productivity. You’re wondering what the catch is right? Well, there isn’t one. I know it might sound too good to be true, but what have you got to lose? Hear me out! Biofeedback may be just the thing you've been searching for.

Biofeedback is defined as “a process whereby electronic monitoring of a normally automatic bodily function is used to train someone to acquire voluntary control of that function.”

Translation: Biofeedback helps decrease that background noise that tends to be humming in your brain even when you don’t consciously perceive it- that white noise that just won’t shut off. Turning down the volume of that noise allows you to gain control over things you otherwise considered automatic or involuntary (i.e. heart rate, blood pressure, cognitive function, etc.).

Minimize stress, manage pain and improve productivity in just MINUTES a day. How you ask? #Biofeedback! #saslife Click To Tweet

Benefits of Biofeedback

Biofeedback has been researched for decades with statistically significant positive results. Studies conducted with over 11,500 people have shown improvements in mental and emotional well-being after using HeartMath biofeedback training and technology for 6-9 weeks:

  • 24% improvement in the ability to focus
  • 30% improvement in sleep
  • 38% improvement in calmness
  • 46% drop in anxiety
  • 48% drop in fatigue
  • 56% drop in depression.

Basically, you name it, biofeedback can more than likely help!

*NOTE: Biofeedback training and technology is NOT intended to replace regular medical care and is intended to be an adjunct way of improving and maintaining your health and well-being.

The Heart-Brain Connection

While there are many ways to practice biofeedback, the HeartMath approach focuses on the heart. You may wonder why that is since most of us were taught that the brain is the master controller and what the brain says, the body does. However, what many of us don’t realize is that the heart sends MORE signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart! And the brain listens!

The signals your heart sends to your brain can drastically change how the rest of your body responds.

  • During times of stress and negativity, your brain receives disordered and chaotic messages from your heart. This limits your ability to think clearly and make good decisions (i.e. why you may say or do something in the heat of the moment that you later regret).
  • During times of calm and positivity, your brain receives stable and logical message from your heart. This facilitates cognitive function, reinforces emotional stability and enhances good decision making and productivity.

Through the simple use of an ear sensor, HeartMath technology gives you a glimpse into your otherwise untapped emotional landscape (or that “background noise” I mentioned earlier). With that data, you can then utilize various techniques to alter those messages to ones of calm, peace and order which can drastically improve your health and well-being over time.

Recognize. Breath. Focus. Thrive.

While the technology is great for immediate feedback and tracking progress over time, you can practice biofeedback anytime with or without equipment. To give you a glimpse into the power of biofeedback, try this simple technique from HeartMath to help re-energize from the emotional stresses of day to day life (think cozy blanket or soothing bath):

  1. Recognize that you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, angry or any other negative emotion.
  2. Acknowledge that these emotions aren’t causing you to feel drained or imbalanced as much as it is the significance you give them.
  3. Breathe deeply and slowly by breathing in for 5-6 seconds and out 5-6 seconds.
  4. Activate a positive feeling by intentionally feeling love, care or appreciation for something or someone in your life. This helps take you to a soft place in your heart and increases your ability to be compassionate towards yourself.
  5. Soak and relax in this positive state, letting the significance of the situation slowly dissolve. Take as much time as you need until any negative emotions have completely dissolved.

 

Just like learning to play a new sport or musical instrument, biofeedback requires a commitment to training and practice to be successful. Knowledgeable SAS Health Care Center instructors certified in the HeartMath approach offer Biofeedback Training in small, in-person group settings throughout the year to all SAS employees and adult dependents covered under the SAS Medical Plan.

If you are a SAS employee or adult dependent local to Cary, North Carolina, contact SAS Health Care Center for more information. If not, visit HeartMath’s Website for more information.

 

Spa Water

PRINT RECIPE

Ingredients

1 lemon, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
1 handful fresh mint leaves

Directions

  1. Place lemon and cucumber slices and fresh mint into a pitcher of water.
  2. Allow to infuse for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.
  3. Enjoy!

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About Author

Ashley Bailey, MS, RDN, LDN

Nutritionist

Ashley is a Nutritionist at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Biofeedback Instructor, and has a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management. Outside of work, Ashley enjoys spending as much time as possible at the beach, running, cooking and crafting. Follow @abaileyRD on Twitter.

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