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Mindfulness for Heart HealthFebruary 27, 2020
In our current world, stress seems an inevitable part of life. But the mind–body connection is strong and if you don’t find ways to relieve stress your physical health will suffer, including your heart health. Stress can increase blood pressure and can increase the chance of the blood forming clots which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. It can also have harmful effects on the immune system. You might even find yourself vulnerable to developing first-time cardiovascular disease, recurrent heart conditions or heart attacks.
“There’s more to heart attack and stroke prevention than medications, exercise, and diet. Chronic stress has been linked to the progression of coronary artery disease. Although elimination of stress is never completely possible, stress reduction and a healthier approach to managing stress should be an important part of any cardiovascular health regimen,” said Dr. Kevin Lax, a Holy Redeemer cardiologist.
Increasingly, mindfulness is being recognized as beneficial in reducing stress. The concept sounds simple – remaining in the present by paying attention to moment-by-moment experiences. Recent studies point to promising results using meditation. Research shows that people who meditate are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Simple breathing exercises help reduce stress by slowing the breath, helping you breathe more deeply and ultimately lowering the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Once it’s become a habit, mindfulness can provide greater awareness and perspective, helping to cope with stress.
If you’re curious, check out apps like Calm or Headspace, which make meditation much easier by guiding you through the entire process. Commit to at least 10 minutes a day to reap the full physiological benefits.
Some other stress reduction ideas:
- Change what you can, while accepting that some things are beyond your control.
- Allow yourself to say "no" to requests that will add more stress to your life.
- Schedule time to relax – read, listen to music or a podcast.
- Do yoga or tai chi.
Mindfulness activities are a great way to manage stress, sleep well and feel better, but shouldn’t replace eating healthier, managing your weight, and getting regular physical activity as a part of stress reduction and heart health. It’s also not a substitute for any medication or medical treatment your doctor may have prescribed.
Stress is a part of life, but taking steps to reduce or manage it can improve your health and happiness.
To learn more about mindfulness and how to develop strategies to reduce stress you may consider working with a Life Coach. To learn more about the Life Coaching program at Holy Redeemer, call 1-800-818-4747 or email email@example.com.