We are all familiar with the stress response. Not only from experiencing stress, but also from the continuous debate about stress, burn out, and how stress affects our mental health.
Did you know that experiencing stress-related emotions such as frustration and anger for just five minutes a day can suppress your immune system for up to six hours? Mindboggling, isn’t it. The information comes from research made by the Institute of Heart Math, who are the leading researchers on everything to do with the heart and happiness; check out their website if you like - they have a lot of great information there.
Knowing that your immune system can take such a big hit from experiencing anger and frustration can feel a bit heavy. This information is certainly not intended to encourage you to suppress any anger and frustration - suppressing them, pushing them deep down into your stomach, is not going to do you any good - quite the opposite, in fact. One solution is to look at your life and understand what causes you to go into a stress response, and begin making important changes in your life.
There is also another way to counteract this stress response. Did you know that there is something called 'the love response'? No - most of us don’t know this. The phrase was coined by Dr Eva Selhub (Harvard). Feeling love, compassion, and ease for a few minutes a day can boost your immune system for up to six hours. That is brilliant news! What is even more wonderful is that it is so easy to do, and takes such a short amount of time. You can easily activate the love response by doing something called 'the inner ease technique'. Instructions are below, but you can also find examples of it on YouTube and follow along there if that suits you better. Doing the inner ease technique for just a few minutes will help you get into a beautifully calm state; your mind relaxes, as does your body. Do give it a try, not just once or twice, but over the course of a week. It only takes two minutes and it is well worth it, I can promise you that.
The inner ease technique
- Close your eyes, if you can - if not possible, you can do this technique with your eyes open.
- Place the palm of your hand on your heart.
- Imagine that you are breathing in and out of your heart centre - easy, calm breaths - just think of the breath going into your heart and out of your heart. Do this for a couple of breaths.
- Now, on each inhale, imagine that you are breathing in compassion, love, and ease, and when you breathe out, you breathe out of your heart. Continue doing this for ten breaths or so - breathing in compassion, love, and ease, and breathing out of your heart.
To help you, you can repeat those words quietly in your head when you breathe in, you can think of a situation in which you experienced compassion, love, and ease, or think of a person or pet that makes you feel love and compassion.
- Inhale and exhale one last time.
- Remove the hand from your heart.
- Open your eyes.
It feels so good!