Get Out of Your Own Head – A Self-Care Journey with HeartMath®, Sharlin Health and Neurology
Do you ever feel like the pressures of managing your emotions, relationships, and career have taken a toll on your wellbeing? You’re not alone. If it feels like stress is constantly swirling around in your head, making it hard to focus or just breathe deeply, then you are in desperate need of self-care. And we can help! It’s time to break out of the cycle! You may be surprised by how much can shift if you are willing to invest time in self-care. At Sharlin Health & Neurology, we’re thrilled to offer our clients a unique opportunity for powerful transformation, partnered with our evidence-based practice. Together, these experiences make up an incredible journey of healing your heart and mind from life’s toughest battles, giving you back control no matter if it’s physical changes or mental ones!
Thoughts in Your Head
Valerie Sharlin helps patients manage stress by examining how they perceive it. Our thoughts can manifest stress, and research shows that some people believe stress is harmful, while others view it as a necessary tool for growth. For instance, anxiety can motivate us to succeed in our careers. Valerie’s work involves helping people understand their own views of stress and how to reframe them in a positive way.
“Identifying what thought is in your head?: ‘I’m a burden to my family.’ That’s a pretty serious thought with a lot of consequences. But what if that thought is, ‘I am fun, I love being with people.’ That’s a completely different thought. That manifests in a lot different ways. I help people with that “, she relays to us.
Valerie also helps patients identify what causes stress in their bodies. She uses a system called HeartMath® which provides biofeedback. She teaches people to take deep breaths, which oxygenate their bodies and make them feel more positive. HeartMath® measures heart rate variability, which shows the level of cortisol in your body. Valerie helps people achieve a sense of peace on the parasympathetic side. By practicing for just three minutes at a time, patients learn to recognize how it feels to be calm or stressed. The more they practice, the better they can control their stress levels. Using the HeartMath® system, patients can see how their body reacts to stress and how to bring themselves into a calm state.
BioFeeedback with HeartMath®
HeartMath® is biofeedback from a company with 35 years of scientific research. We’re able to use mindfulness research, yoga, and spirituality, but take them into this science-faith method.
Valerie further explains how HeartMath works by saying that our hearts are like electric motors, which create energy and an electromagnetic field around us. She compares it to how our bodies create energy from glucose through the Krebs cycle, and neurotransmitters and neurons make energy for the brain.
We are all made up of energy, and our heart rate variability can help us manage that energy. When our heart energy is in a negative state, like with emotions such as grief or anxiety, we are draining our energy. However, if we learn to shift our mindset to positive emotions like gratitude, love, and excitement, our electromagnetic field changes and we become more resilient, like having a full cell phone battery. This can help us handle stress and emergencies better, depending on how much energy we have stored up.
“I call HeartMath® a tool because we have (at Sharlin Health and Neurology) the Brain Toolbox. First of all, this is what I remind people: ‘I work for you. I’m here to present you with tools and you determine whether you’re gonna use these tools or not.’ People have to be accountable to themselves. I cannot do anything to you. You will choose it and I will walk with you on this journey. My job is to help you identify a road back in front of you, and we’re going to figure out a way to get around it.” – Valerie Sharlin
Furthermore, Valerie gave us something worth pondering.
She said, “Life is about failing forward. That’s how we raise our children. What I want to do is teach my children to fail so I can teach them how to pick themselves up. That’s what we do over and over. We take an action step, we go back, we take two action steps, we go back. That’s life. The people get very frozen that they have to be perfect and they can’t do it. No, the real joy is picking yourself up, laughing about it, finding a different way.”
Valerie encourages people to check in with their bodies and ask themselves how they’re feeling. When we’re stressed for a long time, it can become our new normal without us even realizing it. But this constant stress can harm our bodies, and we just keep pushing through. To heal, we need to come back into our bodies and practice being present. When we notice physical symptoms of stress, like a tight chest, burning eyes, or stiff neck, we can recognize them as our body’s response to cortisol. By taking a deep breath and bringing ourselves into a state of coherence, we can relax, and this can also help the person we’re interacting with relax too. This is supported by HeartMath® research and the concept of mirror neurons.
“We’ve worked with Afghanistan soldiers, SWAT team officers, boardrooms, and marketing teams. Bringing people in coherence together, makes a team work together.”
Your Story Matters
Valerie and our team have really taken HeartMath® to chronic disease. We believe we, as humans, are sentient beings of story.
Valerie talked about how we all have a story in our heads about who we are. It’s like a bubble that we carry around with us. When we get sick and go to the doctor, new information becomes part of our story, and our brain creates a new narrative. Our brain’s main job is to keep us alive, so the story can affect our health.
For example, if someone has ALS and is told they’ll have a miserable death and will need a breathing machine and a wheelchair, their body will start breaking down because that’s the story in their brain. But what if someone told them they didn’t know what would happen and helped them create a new story with different characters and meaning in their lives? That could be much more helpful and healing.
One gentleman we met before was asked, “Before you were sick, did you ever get to talk about yourself?” He answered,” Never.” So then we went on and replied, ”Isn’t it fun that it’s all about you now?”
Dr. Lisa Miller wrote a book called “The Awakened Brain” after studying spirituality for decades. Her research focused on depression, children, and suicide. She found that children who had a sense of spirituality had a 62% lower chance of getting depressed. And children who were taught spirituality had an even greater reduction of 82%.
Dr. Miller also discovered that when the brain meditates, the white matter grows. In fact, when the brain is in a meditative state during an MRI, its energy level slows down to that of a forest, which can create a feeling of connection to nature.
She even suggested that depression could be a catalyst for spirituality, as it can lead us to search for meaning and hope in our darkest moments.
Caring for Yourself
“Functional medicine is not ‘I’m going to give you a pill and we’re not going to allopathesize it with herbs. There’s no root cause. It’s a complete culmination of your genetic history, decades, thousands of years back”, Valerie emphasizes.
Do you have health issues that run in your family, like inflammation? Did you experience any difficult situations growing up, like living through war or experiencing trauma during pregnancy? Were you breastfed and born vaginally? Did you experience any physical injuries as a child, like a head injury? Did you struggle with bullying or other challenges in junior high? Did you push yourself to get a Ph.D. at the expense of your physical health?
All of these experiences can impact your body, and it’s possible that you’ve taken more from it than you’ve given it.
That’s why we’re here to help you. We’ll work with you to identify areas where you can make deposits back into your body, and help you create a plan to improve your overall health. This will be a daily practice, but it’s an investment in yourself that will pay off in the long run. There’s no one-and-done fix. You’ll learn how to care for yourself.
Valerie’s insight is that people have a fundamental need to be recognized and understood. “People want to be seen. Probably number one diagnosis in the world is loneliness. We saw that through COVID. The dementia, just in chronic disease, just exacerbated. People are a microbiome. They’re meant to be together and flourish with each other. And so in our practice, we see you, we hear your story,” she said.
It is essential to realize that you are the hero of your own story and that taking control of your life through self-care is empowering. Investing time in yourself can be a great source of pride and validation, as going through this journey personally teaches you many valuable lessons as well as helps you become more compassionate and understanding towards others. We hope this blog post has better equipped you with the knowledge and tools you need for your own path of personal care, growth, and exploration. By engaging in the practices we discussed, like tending to your thoughts in your head, taking advantage of Biofeedback with HeartMath®, using mindfulness around failure, recognizing that your story matters, and caring for yourself consciously, we are certain you will find answers to whatever it is you seek. If these methods sound helpful to you but they’re something beyond learning on your own, then please consider reaching out to us because we’d love to walk alongside you on this self-care journey. Start today by scheduling a discovery call so that together we can make progress toward finding balance from the inside out!
Are you feeling the overwhelming effects of stress in your life? Is it taking a toll on your happiness? We’re here to help! Let’s schedule a free discovery call to identify the root cause of your stress and create a personalized plan to overcome it.
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional