Huffpost Healthy Living
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Deborah Rozman Headshot

GPS for the Soul and HeartMath: Tools for Today's Stress

Posted: Updated:

April is National Stress Awareness Month. It's a time to consider how stress is affecting our lives and to become proactive about reducing our personal, family or workplace stress.

HeartMath LLC is excited to be partnering with The Huffington Post in collaboration with bLife on GPS for the Soul, to empower people to reduce their stress right in the moment and connect with their heart's intuitive guidance.

HeartMath was founded by stress researcher Doc Childre in 1991 out of a deep care for people and the planet. He foresaw that stress would become an epidemic in modern society and that people would need simple, user-friendly tools to connect with their hearts and spirits to manage today's stressors. He started HeartMath to research and develop a science-based system of tools and technologies to help people reduce their stress and improve health, resilience and quality of life.

When I met Doc, I was executive vice president of a company that had seen rapid growth and although I meditated daily, I still had a lot of stress. I wanted to have the peace, joy and insights I experienced in meditation in workday life. I would listen to my heart, but often the noise inside me and around me would drown out my inner signals. When I met Doc and he talked about accessing the power and intelligence of the heart in the midst of all the busy-ness, I was deeply interested. I decided to join him as founding executive director of HeartMath in 1991.

HeartMath's breakthrough research (published in the American Journal of Cardiology) uncovered a physiological state called heart coherence, where spirit, heart, brain and nervous system come into synchronization and alignment. We developed HeartMath techniques and tools so people could access this state at any time. I found that using these tools provided the missing link I had been looking for.

Heart coherence empowers us to better manage our emotions, prevent and release stress quickly, and connect with our heart's intuitive intelligence to make conscious choices. Practicing heart coherence enables us to live more from the core values of the heart, such as appreciation, love, care, compassion, joy, forgiveness and kindness, which HeartMath calls heart-based living.

In her book The Fourth Instinct, Arianna Huffington writes, "Choosing at each moment the feelings, attitudes and values -- acceptance, cooperation, caring, loving, forgiving -- that will be the building blocks of the emerging reality, what it means to choose to evolve."

I am thrilled that the GPS for the Soul mobile app will incorporate our heart coherence technology to enable people to course-correct by connecting with their heart's intuitive guidance system, their inner GPS.

"Your intuitive heart is the GPS for finding the shortest and most effective route between intention and its destination." -- Doc Childre, 1995

Tools for Today's Stress

Many people have told us that the things they did in the past to reduce stress often don't seem to work as well as they used to. That's because today's stress is more persistent due to the accelerating speed of life and constant change. In today's times, stress is often triggered by mental and emotional overload, and by uncertainty about the future. Stress is our body's way of signaling that we are out of balance and likely to make poor choices or compromise our mental, emotional or physical health.

It used to be that we had plenty space between events, like eating, sleeping, working, spending time with family and hobbies. We had time to unwind and recoup from stress. We could go on vacation and not worry about all the emails that will pile up so high that we don't even want to take the vacation. Advances in technology have enabled us to constantly multitask, take on more and more work and stay hyper-connected. The media continuously broadcasts news that creates stress waves across the planet, adding to personal stress levels.

Today's stress is different and we have to learn how to manage it -- from the inside out. Even though stress impacts health, relationships, career and quality of life, we aren't necessarily aware of the impact that stress is having on us. Many people still associate stress and sleep deprivation with hard work and are proud of that. But the statistics tell us something else. Today's stress is analogous to the "Myth of Sisyphus" in Greek mythology. Sisyphus was compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. As a leader in the field of stress and performance for over 20 years, it's become apparent to us at HeartMath that many people have become resigned to living with high levels of stress as a new norm.

Public health organizations and publications are sounding the alarm about the growing "stress problem." Norman Anderson, CEO of the American Psychological Association (APA), says that "Stress could easily become our next public health crisis." An American Psychological Association survey found that 33 percent of Americans reported suffering from extreme stress and half of those reported experiencing high levels of stress at least 15 days per month. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that workplace stress is as bad for your heart as smoking and high cholesterol. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reported that employees with high stress have 46 percent higher health costs!

There are simple, effective steps we can take, but first we have to be aware of how stress is affecting our attitudes, communications, health and quality of life. Then we have to take personal responsibility, realizing that our moment-to-moment choices do count. They create a map of which emotional roads we will travel on each day and what the destination will be.

HeartMath Stress Solutions

HeartMath solutions to reduce stress and increase resilience are being used by thousands of adults and children, health professionals, health care systems, businesses and the U.S. military. People are taking charge of stress and transforming their lives.

Pre- and post-assessments of over 5,000 individuals using HeartMath stress solutions experienced the following results in just six to nine weeks. (Additional post-assessments showed improvements sustained after six months and one year.)

  • 50 percent drop in fatigue
  • 46 percent drop in anxiety
  • 60 percent drop in depression
  • 30 percent improvement in sleep

An independent actuarial analysis of one self-insured employer showed a health care cost savings of $585 per HeartMath-trained person in the first year alone, resulting in a 2:1 ROI for the employer with a projected 4:1 ROI in the second year. A similar ROI has been achieved in other organizations adopting HeartMath methods. We have achieved global recognition as a best practice in stress reduction, and for our research, products and services that have proven to reduce the impact of stress associated with living and working in this era of high-speed change.

We can all make progress in reducing stress, yet we have to play an active part in it. Emotional self-maintenance and living from the core values of the heart are an important part of the process.

The Huffington Post, HeartMath and bLife are collaborating on GPS for the Soul with the goal of helping millions of people with tools and technology to take charge of stress and find more peace, joy and quality in life.

Join us in this project. Your insights and thoughts are welcome!

About HeartMath®:

HeartMath LLC is a cutting-edge performance company providing a range of training programs, coaching, publications and technology to improve health and well-being, while dramatically reducing stress and boosting performance and productivity. HeartMath studies have demonstrated the critical link between emotions, heart rhythms and cognitive performance. HeartMath's heart coherence feedback technology, the emWave® Personal Stress Reliever®, won the Consumer Electronics Show Last Gadget Standing People's Choice Award in 2009. www.heartmath.com

For more by Deborah Rozman, click here.

For more on stress, click here.

From Our Partners