Your adaptability to stress is determined by your heart rate variability (HRV). The HRV is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat time interval of your heart shown here:
(Heart Rate Variability - interval between heart beats)
A good balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity in your nervous system makes for a high HRV. The latter is key for your stress resilience and also a marker for your overall fitness.
Emotional or physical challenges impact your HRV directly – and vice-versa. A lower resting HRV has been linked to multiple diseases, stress, anxiety, depression, reduced immune response and all-cause mortality. A high HRV improves your quality of life in nearly every aspect. However, one of the easiest practices to get better at stress is biofeedback coupled with slow breathing. Clinical studies have shown, that 6–10 weekly sessions of HRV biofeedback training and daily practice reduce numerous mental and physical ailments.
The graph taken, from heart math, shows an individual’s heart rate variability, blood pressure rhythm, and respiration rhythm over a 10-minute period. At the 300-second mark (center dashed line), the individual used the quick Coherence technique (below) to activate a feeling of appreciation and shift into the coherence state. At this point, the rhythms of all three systems came into entrainment: notice that the rhythmic patterns are harmonious and synchronized with one another instead of scattered and out-of-sync.
The left side of the graphs shows the spectral analysis of the three physiological rhythms before the shift to coherence. Notice how each pattern looks quite different from the others. The graphs on the right show that in the coherence state the rhythms of all three systems have entrained to oscillate at the same frequency.
Steps for Quick Coherence Technique
Step 1: Focus your attention in the area of the heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual.
Suggestion: Inhale 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds (or whatever rhythm is comfortable.)
Step 2: Make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life.
Suggestion: Try to re-experience the feeling you have for someone you love, a pet, a special place, an accomplishment, etc. or focus on a feeling of calm or ease.
Take your training further
If you want to take your HRV training further, we use Heart Math's Inner Balance with our clients and also on ourselves. It's an amazing product and very easy to use with exponential benefits.