How to Use the StressEraser
Video: How to Use the StressEraser (6:30)
The short video presentation above provides a step-by-step explanation of how to use the StressEraser. The written tutorial below provides a reference for the same basic instructions.
There are two primary goals of each StressEraser session - to relax your body and to calm your mind.
- Your first goal is to relax your body by making tall, wide, smooth waves. Because breathing directly affects your HRV, the most effective way to relax is to dramatically slow your breathing. When your waves are tall, wide, and smooth, you have engaged the natural relaxation response in your body. Repeating for 10-15 minutes at a time has a lasting effect.
- Your second goal is to calm your mind by reducing negative emotions and thoughts. Even when you are breathing properly, negative emotions will cause your waves to get shorter or to become jagged. You can reduce negative thoughts by focusing on your waves and by counting during your exhale. This exercise will clear your mind.
Before You Begin: Practice Slow Breathing
Before you start your first StressEraser session, it is important that you practice breathing slowly. This will give you a feel for the type of breathing you will be doing with the StressEraser. To practice, inhale for 4 seconds and then exhale for 5 seconds. Feel free to follow your watch or to simply count slowly to yourself. Continue breathing at the 4-second/5-second pace for about 2 minutes. Remember, your goal is to learn to breathe slowly - not deeply. As long as you are breathing slowly, depth will come. Your breathing should always feel relaxed, not strained. Creating a wave pattern similar to the pictures below may take a while. So take your time and do the best you can.
Your First Session
- Press the POWER button on the right side panel (not one of the buttons on the front).
- When prompted, insert your left index finger into the clip. Wait 5 seconds for the sensor to adjust to your pulse rate.
- Wait for your wave to appear on the screen. Whenever you are ready, inhale slowly and gently. When a new triangle appears above the wave, exhale slowly and gently. During your exhale, slowly count 22.214.171.124.5.
- When your wave begins to rise, start your next inhale.
Note: While triangles cue your exhale, there is no cue for the inhale. If you like, you can use the squares as an approximate cue. Begin your inhale when you see the squares appear under the previous wave. Alternatively, you can count 1 second after your wave has started to rise - whichever works best for you.
Score your waves. Your goal is to consistently score 2 and 3-squares under each wave. You get no credit for 1-square waves. Each 2-square wave is worth 1/2 point. Each 3-square wave is worth 1 point. To get 2 squares, follow the instructions to create waves that are tall, wide, and smooth. Keep exhaling at the triangle and counting your exhale.
Your optimal exhale count. If 5 is an uncomfortable count for you - or if you're not scoring 2 and 3-square waves - try exhaling for a count of 4 or 6. You can try even faster or slower, depending on your comfort level. Once you have found an exhale count that is comfortable and consistently results in 2 and 3-square waves, you have found your optimal exhale count. Continue with that count until you have scored at least 5points. (Your points accumulate in the top-left corner of the screen.)
- Don't lean. For best results, find a comfortable place to sit or recline. Don't lean forward - make sure your sitting position enables you to keep your air passages and abdominal muscles free. Breathe in and out through your nose or mouth, whichever is more comfortable for you.
- Pursed lips. If you are having trouble breathing slowly, try pursing your lips. To do this, pucker or "purse" your lips as if you are going to whistle. This will release less air as you exhale and will help slow down your breathing.
- Always comfortable. Remember, your breathing should always be gentle, quiet, smooth and comfortable. You should not be straining, taking long inhales, holding your breath, or doing anything that is at all uncomfortable.
- Slow not deep. StressEraser breathing is NOT "deep" breathing. Depth will come as long as you are breathing slowly. Breathing deeply too quickly can cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded. StressEraser breathing is like normal breathing, except it is a little slower. And of course it is synchronized with the activity of your nervous system.
- Extend your exhale. Once you are familiar with the StressEraser and are consistently scoring 3 squares, extend your exhale as long as you can until your wave starts to rise again - then begin your inhale. Remember, you benefit from making your exhales longer and longer, as long as your breathing remains comfortable and relaxed. The idea is to extend your exhale for as long as your nervous system can handle.