How Stress Effects The Body


How Stress Effects The Body


Understanding the mechanics of stress gives you the advantage of being more aware of and sensitive to your own level of stress and knowing when and how to take proactive steps. This increased awareness also helps you to better care for your family, friends and colleagues. Here are a few stress facts that many people are unaware of:

Stress Facts

Fact #1:Your body doesn’t care if it’s a big stress or a little one.

The human body doesn’t discriminate between a BIG stress or a little one. Regardless of the significance, stress affects the body in predictable ways. A typical stress reaction, which most of us experience dozens of times each day, begins with a cascade of 1,400 biochemical events in your body. If these reactions are left unchecked we age prematurely, our cognitive function is impaired, our energy is drained, and we are robbed of our effectiveness and clarity.

Fact #2:Stress can make smart people do stupid things.

Stress causes what brain researchers call “cortical inhibition.” The phenomenon of cortical inhibition helps to explain why smart people do dumb things. Simply said, stress inhibits a small part of your brain and you can’t function at your best. When we are in coherence – a state where we are cognitively sharp, emotionally calm, and we feel and think with enhanced clarity – the brain, heart and nervous system are working in harmony. This state of coherence facilitates our cognitive functioning – we are actually operating at peak performance mentally, emotionally and physically.

Fact #3:People can become numb to their stress.

We can be physiologically experiencing stress yet mentally numb to it because we’ve become so accustomed to it. Some have become so adapted to the daily pressures, irritations and annoyances of life that it starts to seem normal. Yet the small stresses accumulate quickly and we may not realize how much they’re impairing our mental and emotional clarity and our overall health until it shows up as a bad decision, an overreaction or an unwanted diagnosis at the doctor’s office.

Fact #4:We can control how we respond to stress.

We don’t need to be victims to our own emotions, thoughts and attitudes. We can control how we respond to stress and we can become more sensitive to stressful situations and how they are affecting us before it manifests as a physical, mental or emotional complaint. There are simple, scientifically validated solutions to stress that empower people to rewire their own stress response.

Fact #5:The best strategy is to handle stress in the moment.

The best way to manage stress is to deal with it the very moment you feel it come up. Millions of Americans unsuccessfully use the binge-and-purge approach when it comes to stress. They stress out all day, believing that they can wait until later to recover when they go to an evening yoga class, go to the gym or chill out when they take the weekend off. Unfortunately, when we put off going for our own inner balance our bodies have already activated the stress response and it’s our health that suffers.


Is HeartMath The Answer?
Changing Heart Rhythms

HeartMath’s research shows how emotions change our heart rhythm patterns. Positive emotions create coherent heart rhythms, which look like rolling hills – it’s a smooth and ordered pattern. In contrast, negative emotions create chaotic, erratic patterns. Using a heart rhythm monitor, you can actually see your heart rhythms change in real time as you shift from stressful emotions like anger or anxiety to positive feelings like care or appreciation. Coherent heart rhythm patterns facilitate higher brain function, whereas negative emotions inhibit a person’s ability to think clearly. Coherent heart rhythms also create a feeling of solidity and security.


About HeartMath

HeartMath was founded by Doc Childre in 1991 to help individuals, organizations and the global community incorporate the heart’s intelligence into their day-to-day experience of life. This is accomplished  by connecting heart and science in ways that empower people to greatly reduce stress, build resilience, and unlock their natural intuitive guidance for making better choices. HeartMath’s goal is to share the story in ways that inspire others to create a more heart-connected world with us.

Since their inception HeartMath has been developing and delivering research-based, practical, and reliable tools and technologies that enable people to align and connect their heart, mind and emotions to produce transformative outcomes—with more flow and less stress. In essence, their products and services are designed to empower people to improve their experience of life and bring their best selves to their personal, social, and professional lives.


Click anywhere on the image below for more info on HeartMath and the products they offer.



Inner Balance with Meditation Assistant Book

The Inner Balance system works with your iPhone as an app and comes with a sensor to monitor your stress level, heart rate and breathing patterns.  This bundle package comes with the Inner Balance system and the Meditation Assistant Book.



50% drop in fatigue
46% drop in anxiety
60% drop in depression
24% improvement in the ability to focus
25% improvement in listening ability
30% improvement in sleep

HeartMath scientifically monitors your emotional and physical health – and helps you improve it.

Are We Resigned to Stress?

(borrowed from the HeartMath blog)

HeartMath Stress Experts Say We Can Significantly Reduce Our Stress by Understanding How Our Emotions Work.

In the 1950’s a noted researcher named Hans Selye popularized the term stress for the first time. Selye said: “Everyone knows what stress is, but in reality nobody knows.” Today, however, we are learning more about the underlying mechanics of stress as science helps to unravel the mysteries of emotions. HeartMath, a globally recognized authority on the physiology of and relationship between stress and emotions, has spent the last 17 years decoding the underlying mechanics of stress. HeartMath experts say the subtler day-to-day stressors are breeding an attitude of resignation towards stress. Stress can become engrained in our brain’s neural circuitry, forming unhealthy habits that drain us emotionally. HeartMath studies show we can significantly reduce the amount of stress we experience by understanding how our emotions work.

Our accelerated lifestyle has contributed to a mindset that living with daily irritations, anger, frustration, low-grade anxiety, and hopeless feelings is normal. After all, many people you know feel this way. A recent survey conducted by the National Consumers League shows that adults are considerably more stressed now than they were five years ago or even one year ago.
Most of us have tried different approaches to dealing with our stress, but find we don’t have the time to stick with it, or maybe we feel a temporary relief but the stress returns soon after. Feeling we’ve run out of options, we tend to defer stress with the mind by talking ourselves into believing that’s just the way life is. Deferring stress is the same as resigning to stress or believing it’s a force we can’t change.

In a recent study conducted by Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and her colleagues, researchers observed a significant resignation in young people, with many kids feeling like nothing they do matters. The project studied more than 25,000 young people and found a strong increase in cynicism, helplessness and general negativity. Stress affects everyone from young children to adults, and experts are concerned that if we don’t put more emphasis on stress and the core emotional causes, we could be looking at a generation that will progressively develop a crystallized “whatever” attitude towards life.

HeartMath researchers say stress and emotions cannot be separated. Dr. Rollin McCraty, director of research for the Institute of HeartMath, says, “Ongoing low-grade stress can do more harm to the body, mind, and emotions than one large stressful event can.
“We’ve studied the physiology of stress in thousands of people of all ages over the last seventeen years. One common factor we’ve observed is that although someone can ‘think’ they’re not stressed or defer it as just an irritation or a low-grade anxiety, the stress reaction has already been triggered. The body is responding more strongly to what the person really feels; the body registers even the subtler everyday irks and frustrations as stress.”

Psychologist Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., founding partner of the HeartMath System and co-author of Transforming Stress: The HeartMath Solution for Relieving Worry, Fatigue, and Tension, says, “The majority of people believe that emotions just happen to them. We haven’t been taught that we can shift out of stressful emotions. But it’s important to understand that stress is accumulated by carrying around unsettled or negative feelings without resolving them. The lack of understanding about how to address our emotions is one of the real causes for today’s stress epidemic.”

Our brain’s neural circuitry is designed to create habits to make it easier to perform tasks without having to think much about them. Each time you repeat a habit, whether an attitude, a behavior, or a repetitive task like driving a car, it becomes more reinforced and automatic. According to HeartMath researchers, the same is true with stress.

The subtler or more mechanical everyday emotional reactions tend to go unnoticed and accumulate. Experts say this eventually this leads to resignation, low-grade anxiety, and low-grade depression.

Dr. Rozman says, “Stress accumulates because we keep storage bins of emotional reactions to people and situations. These storage bins keep us reacting in the same old way over and over. We resign and feel that’s just the way it is, and continue to fill these storage bins with frustrations, hurts and resentments.”

The subtle stressors we tend to ignore are generally everyday occurrences. Dr. McCraty gives this example: “Have you ever received an email from someone you recently had a frustrating conversation with? As soon as you see the sender’s name you experience feelings of dread and irritation. The past experience triggers unresolved feelings about that person. The reason you feel this is because you’ve stored these feelings in your amygdala.”

McCraty explains that the amygdala is an almond-shaped neuro-structure in the brain. It stores emotional memories to help you make instant decisions and cross-references these memories to help you avoid a threat. For instance, if you were bitten by a dog as a child you might feel anxiety in the future when you see another dog. Or if you have accumulated feelings about a certain relative who treats you with disrespect, then each time they call, a feeling of irk gets triggered and you experience that accumulated stress all over again.

One way HeartMath experts say you can stop the negative emotional experiences from accumulating is to learn to track the more subtle emotional reactions. They suggest thinking of the emotions as sound effects. Your outer sound effects, such as sighs, swear words, negative humor, and expressions whispered under your breath can give you clues to the real feelings underneath. Your “inner sonics” like ugh, silent swear words, and feeling that things have “gone south” go on all the time and affect your next thoughts and choices.
Many people believe that the mind rules. But HeartMath results show that it’s our emotions that are shaping much of our thinking and, more often than not, determining our choices and behaviors.

Accumulated stress can actually prevent us from finding the creative solutions we need to better deal with stress. Whether an irritation triggered by a relative or co-worker, or low-grade anxiety triggered by current news events, HeartMath’s research shows that stress compromises our cognitive abilities. We can’t think as clearly or as creatively and we have a harder time making decisions.

Becoming more aware of the subtler or more mechanical everyday stressors – and learning to release the stress so it doesn’t accumulate in an emotional storage bin – will go a long way in helping people feel less emotional drain, stress, and anxiety.

HeartMath research has been distilled into simple strategies and learning programs that can significantly help to reduce stress. Fortune 100 companies are using HeartMath’s techniques and technologies to improve employee performance and lower organizational healthcare costs. Hospitals and healthcare organizations around the country are using the techniques and technologies to help employees and patients alike. HeartMath’s corporate and healthcare clients include Cisco Systems, Duke University Health System, Boeing, Liz Claiborne, Shell, Unilever, Ohio Hospital Association, and the Stanford Business School, among others.

One of HeartMath’s award-winning programs is called the emWave® PC Stress Relief System. This patented software program uses a special finger sensor that allows you to see in real-time on your computer monitor how your emotions are affecting you.

The program’s tutorial teaches the user HeartMath’s scientifically validated techniques. HeartMath results show that with even a little practice you’ll quickly learn to recognize the more subtle and mechanical stress reactions and how to transform them into productive and creative energy and solutions.


I have not tried this product, yet, but I think it’s fabulous!  HeartMath offers a completely holistic approach to every day issues like stress, insomnia, over eating, high blood pressure, etc…

The HeartMath systems are relatively new and have very little reviews to refer to.  However, it is noted that there has been much success with the HeartMath tools in treating brain trauma recovery.  Specifically to help relieve anxiety, to increase attention, memory and reading comprehension, and to have more clarity.

The Heartmath tools have also been used to treat traumatized adults and children in relation to the heart rate variability and emotional health and well being.  I recommend you check out their site, HeartMath LLC  for more info and specific product details.

Please leave any questions or comments below regarding stress and how it’s affected your life.  If you have used any of the HeartMath tools, please feel free to let others know what specific products you tried and how they worked for you.

Be Well!



2 thoughts on “How Stress Effects The Body

  1. Thanks Barb! You’re right – we do become desensitized to daily stress. From what I’ve read, it’s long-term stress that really creates big problems. My understanding is that there are many hormones released under stress. One is cortisol. While it’s very effective short-term, chronic elevated levels can lead to serious medical issues. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar. It can even decrease libido, produce acne, and of course, contribute to mid-section obesity. I’m all for becoming more sensitive to our stressors and taking an immediate approach to minimizing them. As always, this is easier said than done but the first step is trying. Thanks again!

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