Does your voice get shaky when you speak in front of an audience? Do you feel yourself breaking out in hives when you’re in a high-stress meeting? Do you get butterflies in your stomach when you anticipate an uncomfortable conversation with someone?
There are constructive ways of coping with these types of stressors, and a program taught by wellness consultant Kelly Andrews will teach these valuable techniques during a one-hour session in our galleries on Feb. 28 at noon. This free class, called HeartMath®, will be held quarterly.
“There is a lot of research and literature about the health benefits of visiting art museums, including the reduction of stress,” said Claire Orologas, the Polk Museum of Art’s executive director. “The HeartMath® class is another way to engage the public and to facilitate experiences with works of art that have meaning for them, which is ultimately what we want.”
Learn to Handle Stress
Andrews will teach resilience tools including basic emotional tracking techniques and simple breathing practices that help you prepare for, recover from or adapt to stress, anxiety and challenges. These tools will help shift your inner state to one of peace and stillness, even in the midst of chaos.
“We can learn to prepare our bodies for situations that may trigger anxiety, stress and sadness,” Andrews said, adding that the museum is a good space for this training because “it’s such a quiet, receptive environment. The magic of the energy in the space is that it just slows you down.”
Breathing techniques can be performed ahead of time to help calm nerves and promote clear thought. These methods provide a way to intentionally slow the heart rate and breathing.
This is beneficial because research shows there’s more communication from the heart to the brain than the other way around. Research also shows that energy levels are related to emotions, and emotions are directly connected to the ability to cope with stress.
HeartMath® uses science-based technology and programs to help people take charge of their lives. The methods it employs help reduce stress and anxiety by increasing inner balance and self-security.
Breathing techniques and self-regulation tools help increase awareness in difficult situations. Instead of getting triggered, they enable a person to step back and address the situation calmly.
“When we’re angry or sad, we don’t always realize it,” Andrews said. “For most of us, we have a trigger emotion.”
Those emotions are labeled high- or low-energy. High-energy negative emotions that deplete energy include anger, irritation and impatience. Low-energy depleting emotions include sadness, withdrawal and low anxiety.
Examples of high-energy renewing emotions are joy, passion, excitement and love, and low-energy renewing emotions include peace, serenity, ease and calm.
“A lot of people think they have to be in the ‘low-energy positive’ realm all the time,” Andrews said. “What’s cool about the research is that it doesn’t matter if the renewing energy emotions are high or low. They’re all beneficial.”
A Practical Tool with One Huge Benefit
These tools for developing resilience could have the most practical applications in your work.
“If you get your button pushed in a meeting, you can practice these techniques and they will help you dial down those emotions that are coming up,” Andrews said. “This is something you can do as you’re walking from one place to another or sitting in a staff meeting.”
One of biggest benefits people who practice these tools report is better sleep. Adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night report higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night, according to the American Psychological Association.
Registration for this class is not required, but it is appreciated: Reservations@PolkMuseumofArt.org. For questions, call Membership and Marketing Manager Diana Smith: (863) 688.7743, ext. 249.