Recently I was invited to an American Heart Association
event where I was lucky enough to hear Denise Brown, PhD, MBA, RN, program director from The Christ College of Nursing & Health Sciences
, speak about how stress impacts our health, heart and weight. I loved her speech so much that I wanted to hear more! I invited Dr. Brown on to my Pound This
podcast to tell her story and share her research on stress and resilience.
Every single one of us faces stressful events every day, and Dr. Brown discusses how the way we react to those events impacts our whole body. She also explained some tools we can use to handle these stressful situations better.
In this conversation, Dr. Brown mentions that by using Heart Math
you are actually able to see the electrical rhythms of your heart. This helps to paint a picture that allows you to see how you react to stressful events.
Dr. Brown says, “What we know now from an emotional standpoint, and this is very critical and this is why I want individuals to know, what you feel is what you become. What you think is what will manifest in your life, and what you are feeling literally draws a picture. And so, in the science of resilience, it is really important for people to become self-aware of what they’re feeling, because all of these stressful events that are happening all around us, and our access to immediate information via our cell phones or television, we are constantly exposed to events that constantly cause us to either become depleted or renewed.”
But how much is stress really impacting us? Let’s say someone cuts you off in traffic, and you get angry. What impact does that one stressful event have on you? Dr. Brown said that after a Heart Math test, the research showed that the immune system dropped by 50 percent for six hours after just one five-minute stressful experience. Dr. Brown encourages you to think about your last 24 hours. How many stressful events did you have? Now, what toll has that taken on your immune system? Dr. Brown explains, “If you are someone who is susceptible to colds, the flu, or pneumonia, you are depleting your body’s ability to fight against those types of disease processes. But, the great news is if you feel love, care, or appreciation, those are the positive emotions that boost your immune system. The immune system increases its strength for up for six hours.”
Obviously, stressful events aren’t completely avoidable. So what are the best ways to handle the situation to make sure we stay as healthy as possible? Dr. Brown recommends being mindful of your emotions and actively being self-aware of your stressors. After that, when experiencing a stressful event, take a moment for deep breaths and try to calm yourself down. Another method, which I’ve been putting into play since our conversation, is to imagine your happy place. The example Dr. Brown uses in our podcast interview is a boy that thinks of a Rally’s hamburger, because that makes him very happy. So, when faced with a stressful event, think of what makes you happy – like a delicious cheeseburger! For me, it’s one of my favorite hikes. I’ve been really trying to take myself to that place mentally when faced with a stressful event – like getting cut-off in traffic.
I really encourage you to listen to my interview with her
. There’s so much more in it than I could write! And truly, we could all use a little de-stressing.
Need help destressing? Having an ongoing relationship with a primary care doctor can make all the difference in maintaining or improving your health! Schedule an appointment online with one today, at a location near you.