Heart Rate Variability
You don’t need to be 100% stress free, but your brain and body do need to be able to handle the variances in that stress. To see how your body is managing stress, we need to take a look at heart rate variability.
The autonomous nervous system handles all your automatic functions, such as digesting, breathing, and heart rate. In that system, we have two parts: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic.
The parasympathetic nervous system is the part of your body that handles the rest, feed, breath state. Basically, the way that your body should be when you are calm.
The sympathetic nervous system handles the fight or flight response. When you are under stress, this is the part of your body that tells you how to react.
When you breathe in, it activates the sympathetic and increases your heart rate. When you breathe out, it activates the parasympathetic and decreases your heart rate. This means parasympathetic should be activated for longer than sympathetic, as it should take longer to breathe out than in.
A low heart rate variability means that your heart can only handle one level of stress, which is a signifier of future problems. It is also important because the brain responds strongly when the heart is dysregulated. In adults caught in a chronic stress pattern, this is fairly common.
Basically, this means that their heart is like a metronome. It never has a downsweep. This keeps them caught in a stress pattern, since their hearts always believe that they are under stress.
There are ways to combat this, such as focused breathing exercises and increased awareness of the issue. At Connect My Brain, heart rate variability is one of the key things that we test for and work to improve.
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