Matters of the Heart
Salem Creekside Newsletter - Feb. 2016
The old adage, "You can't die from a broken heart," may be at least partly untrue. Research has shown that diet and exercise aside, one's emotional well-being plays a large role in heart health. The biological and chemical factors that trigger mental health issues and stress also may also influence one's risk of heart disease.
The mind-body connection between head and heart is not just about staying in a good mood or being in love. Biochemical changes that result from stress or lack of connection can actually predispose a person to heart problems and other chronic conditions. Physiologically, the stress that results from unhealthy habits or relationships can increase the body's production of adrenaline and cortisol, and can impact your blood pressure and heart rate. Prolonged, elevated levels of these hormones can also weaken the immune system, leading to illness.
On the other hand, research shows that when a person experiences positive emotions such as love and appreciation, the heart responds with smooth, harmonious rhythms that can actually be seen on a heart monitor. A person can take steps to manage daily stress by learning intervention techniques, or by preventing stressful situations with personal boundaries.
- Connect with friends and loved ones that make you feel good; distance yourself, respectfully, from those that do not.
A person can learn to manage regular stress, but in the case of acute depression, other interventions may be required.
- Professional counseling
- Mood-lifting medications
- Support groups
Attending to one's personal emotional health is an important area of self-care that at its core, requires only mindfulness to manage stress and set boundaries. If your stress level becomes unmanageable or if you think you may be depressed, talk to your doctor.