You can feel it. You need stress relief.
The back of your calves are tight. It’s hard to take a full breath.
And, your racing thoughts are.... making you....... forget what you were just thinking.
You know you need to manage your stress -- but how?
HeartMath for Stress Relief
You’ve heard various people mention HeartMath, or heart coherence, but you’re not really sure what it is.
You’re curious. But where to start?
Allow me to introduce you to Heartmath. And give you options for where to begin on your stress relief journey, so you can find the right starting point for you.
HeartMath Institute (.org) is the nonprofit division of HeartMath. Their scientists have conducted research into the Heart and its potentials since the early 90’s.
Their mission is to “help people bring their physical, mental and emotional systems into balanced alignment with their heart’s intuitive guidance. This unfolds the path for becoming heart-empowered individuals who choose the way of love, which they demonstrate through compassionate care for the well-being of themselves, others and Planet Earth.”
The Institute’s sister facility, HeartMath.com, handles other aspects, such as health care practitioner training, product sales, and licensing. You’ll see that I reference them both, below.
14 Ways To Get Started With Heartmath
I frequently find myself sharing with clients and interested others how to get started with HeartMath. Like a menu with overwhelming choices, without some recommendations it can be hard to know what’s best, or where to begin.
What inclusion criteria did I use? I’ve picked easy-access options, across a variety of interests/needs. I know that each of these starting points is a good option for someone.
The question is, which one is best for you?
1. Personal Well Being Survey
In just 5 short minutes, you can be well on your way towards receiving and applying customized advice about things that are stressing you, right now. Just register on the Heartmath.org site, for access to their evidence-based 4 section survey. You’ll answer questions about your stress management, adaptability, resilience and emotional vitality. At the end, a curated list of resources will guide you to stress-busting solutions. Here's the link.
2. Data Driven?
Perhaps you’re a data kind of person. You’re not too sure what all this “heart talk” is. I suggest you start with the 108 page Science of the Heart ebook, where you can learn about heart rate variability, coherence, and the latest research findings. To avoid overwhelm, you can download and read just one chapter at a time, for a deeper dive.
3. Let's Get Coherent
Does thinking about stress make you feel stressed? Then look no further, let’s practice a HeartMath technique this minute. Visit this page and look for Quick Coherence. Follow along, or download the audio version. Practice yourself first, then have your little one practice the age-appropriate version created just for her.
4. Heartmath Experience Video Course
Or, perhaps you have more time, and want to learn more. I invite you to check out the newly released HeartMath Experience Video Course, and watch the trailer here. In this entertaining 9 Chapter course, you’ll learn 5 different HM techniques, and the scientific context which supports them. It’s a great way to get introduced to your heart and its potentials.
5. Find A Heartmath Certified Trainer
Now that you’ve become more familiar with what HeartMath offers in the way of stress relief, perhaps you’d like a guide, a Mentor, who can assist you with applying HeartMath knowledge and tools in your life.
They themselves practice what you’re now learning, and can assist you with making this new way of life your own. Click here to begin your search for a nearby Certified practitioner.
You’ll notice that there are 3 categories of practitioners listed; you can search for all, or select one category only, while specifying your location.
Would You Like Social Connection and Heart Connection?
6. Add Heart Calls
One easy way to connect with others is to join the half hour, once a month free Add Heart Calls, found here. These recorded calls, lead by HeartMath experts, cover a specific heart quality or practice, and end with a group practice of a guided, heart coherence meditation. I recommend these!
7. Heartmath Practice Groups
Want an in-person (now virtual) gathering with your peers, so you don’t have to go this Heart Journey alone? Many solutions are emerging. I myself am starting a Meetup group, called “Hello Heart Connected Community” where we’ll watch the Heartmath Experience together, and support one another in applying what we’re learning.
A London area practitioner has started monthly “We Add Heart” circles, and another peer in Canada has founded “Coherent Hot Spots.” These are fun great ways to meet like-minded others, build your confidence and skills, and gain support.
HeartMath for Life: Supporting Young Ones and Front Line Workers
HeartMath has a wide variety of resources depending upon the life roles that you may play.
If by chance you are a parent, grandparent, or teacher, this next option is for you. You’re probably wondering what you can do to support young ones during this time, as they may be showing signs of stress. A few options come to mind.
8. A Free Giveaway For 4 To 6 Year Olds
First, HeartMath has recently launched its HeartSmarts® Adventure & 100,000 Coherent Kids Initiative. They are giving away to 100k children their program for 4 – 6 year olds, to help them learn about emotions, relating to others, and how to be less bothered by stressors. Click here to check this out, for home or classroom use.
9. Let's Play
Next, should you be looking for a family activity, the Wild Ride to the Heart Game (age 4+ ) engages you in a fun board game as you learn together about emotional awareness and balance. Click here to find out more.
10. For Educators and Students: Find Your Resource
HeartMath also has a rich resource section for students and educators, and not just for stress relief. Use one of these links to find what’s most appropriate for you!
For classroom program resources, click here.
For College survival resources, click here.
For Research studies done in educational settings, click here.
11. For First Responders
Shifting gears, if you are a first responder, HeartMath has resources just for you. For example, they offer a free course in building resilience while protecting you from burnout or being traumatized yourself by your service. If ever there was a time that this was needed it is right now. Get started by clicking here.
12. Serving The Military
Similarly, HeartMath offers a very robust free program for veterans, military personnel and their families. You’ll learn research-based self-regulation techniques and technologies that promote sustainable stress tolerance, resilience, and composure, before during and after high-pressure situations. Learn more here.
13. Health Care Workers
Are you a health care worker serving on the front lines of the Pandemic? Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones, who works for an organization such as Ascension Health Care system in Jacksonville, FL, where they recently instituted HeartMath training throughout their department. In fact, one such group of long term care nurses used HeartMath techniques through their annual week-long Medicare Survey; this story is mentioned in one of the HeartMath "Transforming" series books. Numerous relevant research papers can be found in the HeartMath library; one example is here.
Edutainment For Skeptics - A Final Stress Relief Starting Point
14. Heartmath Video
Finally, let’s say that after contemplating the above, you feel a bit skeptical.
"How is it possible the heart can help with stress? I was always taught the heart is a pump."
I suggest you watch this short but informative video, called Mysteries of the Heart. I’ll bet you’ll find at least 5 facts you didn’t know before, that will help to give you context for all that HeartMath teaches.
Your Turn: What Will You Choose?
We’ve now reviewed 14 ideas for how you can get started using HeartMath to assist you with stress relief and other issues.
Hopefully at least one appeals to you; perhaps you've already started clicking a link.
So go take action now – your heart, and stress levels, will thank you.
And if you'd like a reference sheet you can refer back to, once you've read this article, we've got you covered. Just let us know where to send it, and your handy Reference sheet will be on it's way.