Drink wine, eat chocolate and follow your doctor's advice all at the same time? That's…
And the Beat Goes ON… Keep your heart pumping and your mind calm
It’s no secret we have collectively experienced unanticipated changes (and challenges) in the last year. Whether you are adjusting to working from home, having to be a parent AND teacher to your children, or unable to gather with family and friends … it’s definitely been a time to adapt and cope. Many of these coping mechanisms may have negatively affected us either emotionally or physically. With that said, it’s more important now, than ever before, to listen to your body. Heart health, whether it’s tied to your mental health or your atomical heart, is crucial to maintaining your well-being.
For years, studies have shown a connection between emotions and heart health (a.k.a. the brain-heart relationship). The University of Wisconsin Health found, “loneliness, isolation, being unhappy, and not being around friends and family” could be a major stressor on your heart. Not only can these feelings cause us to experience uncomfortable emotions; such as, stress, depression, and anxiety, but they can also trigger a cardiac event. When people experience negative reactions to stress, their bodies release specific stress hormones called cortisol. The University of Rochester Medical Center says these hormones “cause our hearts to beat more rapidly and our blood vessels to narrow so they can help push blood to the center of the body.” Although these hormones help trigger our fight or flight response, helping us adapt to stressful situations, they also can cause severe mental and physical pain if not released fully.
There is no doubt that our mind and heart are innately and intimately connected. As a result, if one is affected, so is the other … just like a domino effect. Simply being aware of this connection can help us recognize, and take action, to improve our brain-heart relationship.
Tips to strengthen your mental and physical well-being
Recognize your feelings and express them – Create a heightened awareness of your emotions and truly allow yourself to feel them. Express what you are feeling by writing it down, saying it aloud, or talking to a confidant. Just letting these feelings pass through you helps you cope with stressful situations and release your attachment to certain feelings. Also, don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you need it.
Exercise – Remember that any type of exercise releases endorphins (happy thoughts!) and helps dissolve anxiety, stress, and depression. Going for a 30-minute walk, playing outside with your kids, going for a hike, doing cardio, dancing in a Zumba class, or dusting off your old set of dumbbells can be helpful in managing negative emotions.
Be Mindful – Start practicing meditation or relaxation exercises. Get your yoga mat out and start by doing just 20-minutes of yoga or tai chi. There are countless videos online if you need some help getting started. If these activities aren’t your cup of tea, then go on a hike to practice mindfulness, being present in the moment to fully appreciate the sounds and sights around you.
Eat Healthy – A balanced diet will give your body the nutrients it needs to build immunity and combat stress allowing you to simultaneously feel better, decrease your risk of heart disease, and improve the your mental health.