There are two kinds of stress- good stress and bad stress.
Good stress is called eustress, and is fairly subjective in that it is defined by how you respond to a stressor– do you feel excited or hopeful thinking about it? Positively challenged? In amounts that you can handle, stress may even have a protective or strengthening effect.
Then, there is bad stress, or distress. This post will talk about one of my favorite tools to hack bad stress. Distress usually comes from a feeling of overload, having too much to do, or a sense of lack of control. Stress can be a horrible thing, or it can be an opportunity to achieve more mastery in your life.
In Step 3 of the Bulletproof Personal Upgrades Series, you learned about the importance of hacking your stress levels for optimal performance. You also learned how too much stress makes you weak, fat, and infertile. Stress causes many problems, but one of the most powerful is decreased lifespan. Not only does stress decrease the quality of your life – it also decreases the quantity. Most people think of HeartMath as something that just improves your performance on a daily basis, but in fact, the longevity and anti-aging benefits are just as important.
How Stress Shortens Your Life
Stress is a killer. It is so hard on your body, it actually decreases the speed of wound healing. It also makes you more susceptible to diseases like cancer. Perhaps worst of all, it shortens your life. People with the highest stress levels live far shorter lives than those who are more relaxed.
In one study, people with the highest stress levels lived a decade – yes, ten whole years – shorter than those with the lowest stress levels. Even when confounding variables were accounted for, people with the happiest and most relaxed mindsets lived longer than their more negative and stressed counterparts. People who are less satisfied with their lives are more likely to suffer from mental and physical disabilities. Even up to 20 years after a major depressive episode, these people still have a higher risk of early death. On the other hand, happy people have the opposite effect. They tend to live longer, fuller, and healthier lives.
So the obvious solution is to handle stress better and be a happier person, for some, that’s easier said than done. There are several ways to hack your happiness and hack your stress levels. The one that tells you how well your doing, is biofeedback. My preferred daily tool is the EmWave2.
How HeartMath Kills Stress (Before Stress Kills You)
Extensive meditation is associated with increase telomere length, better mental health, better immune function, and longer life. Clinical trials have also shown that meditation can decrease distracting, stressful, or annoying thoughts. The research into the effects of stress management on longevity is ongoing, but most of it suggests that mastering stress is great way to extend your life.
Meditation is one way to reduce your stress levels, but most people I work with don’t have time for long sessions of focused breathing every day. You could hook your brain up to a multimillion dollar EEG machine for a week like I did to supercharge your progress, but most people are probably not willing to go that far. Luckily, there is a convenient, effective, safe, and even fun way to hack your stress levels to the bare minimum: HeartMath.
HeartMath is a stress management system that helps you synchronize your brain and heart for optimal stress resistance and mental performance. It trains you to optimize your heartbeat to levels that are normally only possible with specific meditation or yoga. I became a certified HeartMath instructor in 2010 for a reason: this kind of training is one of my most important hacks of all time.
I used to get worked up just planning a day trip into the city. Now I can travel around the world for my day job, manage a blog ranked in the top 100,000 global websites, act as president of the Silicon Valley Health Institute, write a book on how to make better babies, and do about ten other projects at once – without missing a beat. Not only that, I can do all of this without compromising my long-term health or short-term performance. By using HeartMath to hack my mind and body – I’ve achieved the Bulletproof State of high performance – and so can you.
How to Use HeartMath To Live Longer
The beauty of HeartMath is its simplicity. You can do many of the HeartMath techniques without any tools or training, but for measurable results, try an emWave. The emWave is a small device about the size of an iPod that displays your heart’s level of coherence. Once you connect the sensor to your ear, you focus your mind on making the small light on the emWave turn from red, to blue, to green. Once it turns green, you’re in a state of high coherence – the Bulletproof state of high performance.
HeartMath is easy to learn and starts working for most people immediately. You may need a few days to get the hang of it, but once you do, you’ll be on your way to better thinking and a longer life in no time, like this commenter.
What kinds of things do you find stressful? What are some of the things you do to help manage stress?