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Institute of HeartMath Solutions for Stress

Solutions for Performance

Easing Financial Stress

The Cost of Financial Stress

The headlines of the day remind us of economic troubles across the land: Global Markets Plunge on U.S. Recession Fears, Millions Trapped Below Poverty Line, Housing Crisis Heats Up—Thousands Face Foreclosure, Credit Card Debt Hits All-Time High, Fuel Prices Soar and so on. Politicians solicit votes with promises of relief, the Federal Reserve cuts the interest rate again, and probes of predatory lending are launched.

Meanwhile, millions who struggle beneath the weight of financial burdens press on with their lives, many living paycheck to paycheck and cutting corners to keep food on the table. The tremendous strain of financial worries breaches the bonds of marriage and tears families apart, costs billions each year in lost workplace productivity and billions more in medical costs. It leads to headaches, high blood pressure, serious cardiac problems and a range of other medical problems.

Many who are buried in credit card and other debt give up and file for bankruptcy, ignore the bill collectors or simply walk away, but the majority of people suffer silently, enduring a relentless buildup of stress that saps their energy, motivation and quality of life, weakening their immune system and eroding their spirit. (See our Recommendations)


"Thirty million workers – one in four – are suffering serious financial distress. … A large proportion of those who are financially distressed, 40% to 50%, report that their health is negatively impacted by their financial worries and problems."

– From the 2005 Report, Financial Distress Among American Workers


Negative Response, Positive Response

There is a daunting and vicious cycle high levels of stress can set in motion and breaking its hold can be as elusive as eliminating crushing debt. The cycle begins when negative emotional responses to stressful events and situations such as those related to troubling finances are repeated and become imprinted on our brain’s circuitry. When similar future events and situations occur, perhaps something as simple as receiving an overdue payment notice in the mail, the brain seeks an emotional response. If you don’t intentionally provide an alternative, and the common learned response pattern has been negative – anger, anxiety, depression, etc. – guess what response the brain will trigger. Sadly, the negative-response cycle is reinforced – again.

You can, however, work the brain’s efficiency to your advantage if you remember that you are the master programmer. What if you were to consciously remember that the last time you received an overdue bill notice or came up short before payday or had some other financial worry, you became angry, depressed, felt overwhelmed or experienced another negative reaction you don’t wish to repeat? Well, with a little practice, you can reprogram your brain’s circuitry and your heart can help. That’s right, your heart can help. Researchers at the Institute of HeartMath have made some important discoveries over the years about your heart:


The human heart possesses a vast intuitive wisdom and intelligence that guides us, but the many distractions of our lives, the stresses we are under and the emotional imbalance that so often rules us can leave us disconnected and unaware of that power.


Reconnecting With Your Heart

HeartMath’s tools and technology can help you reconnect with your heart wisdom and intelligence by teaching you heart-rhythm coherence. This is the state in which your heart-rhythm patterns are smooth and ordered such as you might see in an electrocardiogram. In a state of coherence, stress chemical pathways reverse, paving the way for increased synchronization between the heart and brain.

When you focus on intentional emotions such as caring and compassion while in this synchronized state, which athletes call being "in the zone," you can achieve optimal mental clarity, which means making better choices; react to stressful events and situations in positive ways; and find calm amid the sometimes dizzying pace of the world around you.

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A HeartMath Tip: Cut-Thru: This simple exercise, adapted from the HeartMath Cut-Thru® technique, can help you achieve emotional coherence and gradually release the accumulated anxiety caused by financial stress.

  • Be aware of how you feel about an issue at hand.
  • Breathe a positive feeling or attitude.
  • Be objective, as if the issue or problem is someone else’s.
  • Rest peacefully in this neutral state, allowing your heart intelligence to offer new perspectives and possibilities.
  • Soak and relax all resistances and disturbing or perplexing feelings in your heart’s compassion.
  • Ask for guidance, then be patient and receptive. While awaiting an answer from the heart find something or someone to genuinely appreciate.

In-depth details and a discussion about the Cut-Thru technique can be found in a number of HeartMath materials, including the book Transforming Anxiety for Overcoming Fear and Worry and Creating Serenity, by Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman.

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Credit Counseling

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is the nation’s largest and longest-serving national nonprofit credit counseling organization. NFCC members annually help more than 2 million consumers through nearly 1,000 community-based offices nationwide and a network of 1,200 certified housing counselors assist people with many housing matters, including foreclosure prevention. Click here for more information about NFCC. Find a counseling service by ZIP code or state.

Benefits of Reducing Stress

The harsh effects of high levels of stress are well documented by researchers and health organizations worldwide. Taking even a few minutes each day to reduce it can help you in so many ways, including the following:

  • Improved health, feeling of well-being
  • Improved outlook, hopefulness about your circumstances
  • Greater mental clarity, more effective decision-making
  • More energy during the day, rest at night
  • Greater patience with yourself, others
  • Less irritability, fewer angry responses
  • More heartfelt feelings like caring and appreciation
  • Get more enjoyment out of life

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Tools For Easing Financial Stress

The high level of stress caused by overwhelming credit-card and other debt, foreclosure, constantly doing without the necessities, long periods of unemployment and other financial worries pose a serious threat to your well-being. Financial stress can cause unhealthy imbalances in your emotional, mental and physical systems. HeartMath’s scientifically based products have helped thousands around the world with stress reduction and emotional management. Here are some suggestions for easing your financial stress:

  • emWave®2: Regular use of this entertaining and scientifically validated, heart-rate monitor helps you build resilience – a state of poise and readiness for effectively dealing with stressful feelings that can deplete your mental, emotional and physical systems. Easy to use and noninvasive, you can use it as a handheld or connect to your computer to review past sessions or play any of the resilience building games.

  • emWave® Desktop for Mac and PC: The emWave Desktop turns your computer into an advanced heart-rate monitor. When combined with HeartMath’s widely acclaimed resilience and coherence building techniques, you’ll soon learn how easily you can create an optimal state in which your heart, mind and emotions are more in-sync and balanced. In this balanced state, individuals tend to experience more energy, focus and mental clarity. With practice of the HeartMath System can help you begin feeling healthier and happier and start living life more fully.

    † Formerly known as Freeze-Framer®

  • Coherence Coach®: The Coherence Coach interactive software application teaches HeartMath’s science-based Quick Coherence® technique for relieving stress. Once learned, it only takes a minute and is ideal right before you pay your bills or anytime you’re anxious over money matters. Also available in a CD.

(Note: Use the emWave2 or emWave Desktop for Mac and PC to help regulate your emotions in preparation for events you know may trigger your stress response and to help you recover from stressful episodes and get back on an even keel fast.)


Transformational Tools

The HeartMath Transforming Series books, including Transforming Anxiety, provide in-depth analyses and practical, science-based and easy-to-learn solutions for you and those you care for, whether you’re dealing with the pressures of financial stress, anger, pain, loss, illness or many other concerns.

  • Transforming Stress: Childre, Rozman. Don’t let financial stress rule your entire life. Here is a seminal guide that has helped thousands of people recognize the dangers of high levels of stress and how their intelligent hearts and HeartMath’s scientifically proven methods could improve their world.
  • Transforming Anger: Childre, Rozman. If your first response to financial matters frequently is anger, you owe it to yourself to learn how to transform that response into one that is positive and beneficial. Anger, like other emotions, is largely an automatic response our brain has learned. By practicing simple tools included in the book, you can reprogram your brain with responses that are nondestructive and make you feel a lot better.
  • Transforming Depression: Childre, Rozman. Financial stress that persists year after year can give rise to hopelessness and resignation, loss of self-respect and ultimately depression. It doesn’t have to be that way. Read about the warning signs of the depressive state and how the HeartMath System can help.

Learn more…

  • Practice makes perfect: Apply this universally held adage to your brain’s circuitry. With practice and the power of your heart, you can reprogram your brain to unlearn automatic negative emotional responses and replace them with intentionally experienced positive ones. "Once an emotion is experienced, it becomes a powerful motivator of future behaviors, affecting moment-to-moment actions, attitudes and long-term achievements. … at IHM we have discovered that intervening at the emotional level is often the most efficient way to initiate change in mental patterns and processes." The preceding is from Science of the Heart, a compendium of HeartMath research and studies exploring the role of the heart in human performance.
  • A critical skill for most of life’s difficult situations – dealing with money and finances among them – is knowing when and how to make the right decisions. HeartMath invites you to read more about letting your heart guide you in your choices by going to our Effective Decision-Making Solutions for Stress page.

Take me to the HeartMath Store now to learn more about IHM’s life-changing tools, training programs and other resources, or call us: (800) 711-6221.