Frame Freeze: Dealing with Stress

We like sayings around our house.  Maybe that was an understatement. Pretty much we live by sayings. These can be originals like something someone in our family said, or heard someone else say; or ones we have heard from a movie or a TV show and got a kick out of.

The newest one Husband and I have been using is “Freeze Frame”.  We say it to each other now when we sense the other is reacting poorly to a perceived negative situation. Here is how this one got started:

Last weekend I read an interesting book loaned to me by a fellow RN at work called The Heart Speaks written by a cardiologist, Mimi Guarneri, M.D.  I found a number of interesting things in that book, one of which is the concept of a technique to reduce stress called Frame Freeze.  This technique was developed by Doc Childre, founder of HeartMath Research Center.  At this point I hope that you are not thinking, “Blah, blah, blah, wooden, wooden, get me to the interesting stuff”.  Patience, Herbert. (That is another saying, taken from a children’s song umpteen years ago from an album called “Music Machine”.

Anyway, the gist of Frame Freeze is to stop (freeze like a frame in a movie) as soon as you feel stress mounting for whatever reason and consciously try to deal with the situation in a positive way, with positive thoughts. The goal is to reduce the level of stress and thus the negative effects your body would be experiencing. This technique can have dramatic effects on heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol levels, and immune system, among other things like inflammation.  I really encourage you to try it.

I found a more in-depth article on the subject by Dr. Rollin McCraty on the internet (see pages 9 & 10) which I recommend if you are interested in learning more.  However, in a nutshell, he states that the key elements of Frame Freeze is to push the pause button of your brain and shift your attention to your heart; activate a positive feeling about a person, place, or thing or a feeling of gratefulness, love, etc.; and sense “what the best perspective or attitude for this situation” you could foster. It occurred to me that things like memorized Bible verses could be valuable here and reflecting on spiritual things too.

I have only practiced Frame Freeze in a cursory level way so far, but have already found it to be helpful.  “Stop! Self. Take a look at the situation.  Does it really warrant all of this negative emotion?”, sometimes can be enough.  It has even made me laugh. Sometimes poor reactions to stress are just a matter of habit. And that habit can appear ridiculous at times; although sometimes it is definitely more serious, possibly even very grave, dire, or heart-wrenching. But regardless, stress should not be ignored or taken lightly.

The bottom line is that, in general, we all have too much stress in our lives, and it is dangerous to our health for a whole slew of reasons.  So Frame Freeze it.


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