Oct 032012

Emotional stress raises my heart rate about 15 beats per minute. Biofeedback and HRV training has a harder time dropping it than under normal circumstances. Something to think about when you're under emotional stress.

Docs talk about lowering your blood pressure with medications; they wag their finger about reducing your risk of heart attack. In the face of stress, people talk about meditation, about relaxation exercises, about calming down, about eating right, about exercising. But does anyone actually show you the effects of stress on your heart itself? Do you see the improvement when the stress is taken away — not just mediated through drugs and strategies but actually fixed?

I have.

It tells me what I already knew intuitively. You can do all those stress-releasing things, take your drugs, be a deep breathing expert like me, be able to increase your parasympathetic system so as to balance out your sympathetic and drop the heart rate and blood pressure, but none of it works as well as getting the cause of the emotional stress fixed.

Yes, it definitely helps to have a better functioning brain, to be able to think through things. It's invaluable to have decent professional support and people who can help you shift perspective and provide good coping advice. But at the end of the day, only the cause of the stress can truly make a heart-saving diff.

I know that's not fashionable. We’re all supposed to be complete and absolute arbiters of our destiny and our physical health. But that’s garbage. Human beings are social animals. We affect each other whether we like it or not. We influence each other’s health and well being. We are not isolation chambers who can smugly say I'm not responsible for how you feel. Because we are.

We are not responsible for how the other processes the shit we hurl their way. But we are responsible for the shit. And for knowing their weaknesses and foreseeing the likely effects. And for self-control and for giving ourselves time to think through consequences on others and on ourselves when it comes ricocheting back.

It's time North Americans stop pretending we’re completely self-contained individuals who don't need each other on the most fundamental level: life.

This week’s gamma results:

Date Baseline HRV Fdbk 1 Fdbk 2 SMIRB Fdbk 3 HRV
27 Jun 0.83 0.88 0.90 0.90 0.91
4 Jul 0.85 30s 0.91 0.94 0.898 0.90 0.84 EC
25 Jul 0.96 30s 1.03 1.02 1.01 0.97 1.02 EC
3 min 10 min
7 Aug 0.85 0.949 0.95 0.89 0.93 0.92
28 Aug 0.98 0.98 0.986 0.92 0.97 0.934 0.93 EC
4 Sep 0.87 0.872 0.84 0.876 0.92 0.95 0.88
26 Sep 0.92 0.91 0.93 0.92 1.12 Reading:
Fdbk 1 Fdbk 2 Fdbk 3 SMIRB Reading
2 Oct 0.96 1 0.93 0.91 0.93 0.98 0.98
3 Oct 0.94 0.98 0.92 0.9 0.89 0.98 0.94