How Mental Health is Important for Your Heart Health Too!
Have you ever heard the saying: “Think with your head, not with your heart?” Well this saying may be true to certain situations, but what happens when what we are thinking in our head affects what is happening in our heart? When it comes to improving you heart health, having good mental health is mandatory! The two are directly connected and improving one can improve the other. If you are wondering how your head links to your heart, here is how mental health plays a part!
What is Mental Health
Unlike what many think, mental health is not simply how happy or sad you are. Mental health is a term that explains the emotional, social, and psychological well-being of an individual. If a person is struggling in any of these areas, then they may be suffering from poor mental health. When your mental health is low you can experience changes in your mood, thoughts, and even changes in your behaviour. Of course, your psychological well-being is not the only thing that will take a toll. When we suffer from mental illness our bodies undergo serious changes as well (commonly caused by a chemical imbalance). Our hearts are directly linked to our mental health and when we suffer mental illness then the likelihood for heart disease also increases. Mental illness comes in many different forms and it is a different experience for everyone. It is found by the Canadian Mental Health Association that:
“In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.”
Depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, etc. Whatever affects the brain will also affect the heart.
How Mental Health is Linked to Heart Health
When you are working to improve your heart health, you will often hear people say that you should reduce your stress levels. Stress and anxiety are things that everyone will experience at some point in their life, if not every day. Our world is filled with peer pressure, deadlines, self-doubt, examinations, and fear of the unknown. When we let these fears and stressors overwhelm us, we can experience physiological side effects. When your heart beats fast while watching a scary movie, the same thing happens when we experience stress and anxiety.
The more stress and anxiety we have in our lives, our hearts will beat faster due to the adrenaline that has been released into our bloodstream. When we have more adrenaline in our blood, we also experience an increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure (also called Hypertension) is extremely hard on our hearts, as the constant push of blood through your body puts immense strain on the heart. Overtime, if the blood pressure is not brought down to a normal level, the heart muscles will weaken. Having consistent high blood pressure and a weakened heart increases the risk of having a heart attack or experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest.
How to Improve Your Mental Health and Heart Health
In order to improve your mental health, the best thing you can do is to seek out help. Everyone experiences mental illness in a different way. What works for one person may not work for you. Seek supportive influences and surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you. The thing about mental illness is that it can be helped! In addition, speak to your doctor, meet with a psychologist, register for a Canadian Mental Health Association program, and work towards an improved state of mental health!
The best way to improve your heart health and mental health is to reduce the stress and anxiety in your life where possible. For example, if you have a stressful job, learn relaxation methods to help you manage that stress. Whatever it is that causes you stress, try to find ways to manage it so that your day-to-day routine is more relaxing for yourself and your heart! According to Havard Health there is “a new emotion-based approach to heart health, called cardiac psychology.” Essentially this means that you are taking the time and effort to improve your mental and heart health! Although everyone prefers different methods of relaxation, you can try some of the following to bring down your blood pressure, reduce stress, and feel calm:
- Learn breathing techniques
- Drink a cup of tea
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Eat healthy
- Learn stress management techniques
- Turn off your phone for an hour
- Get a massage
- Speak with a friend or family member
- Think positively
- Quit smoking
- Take a nap
- Book a day off to do something that you enjoy and find relaxing
Whatever it is that works for you, go and do it so you can improve your mental wellbeing, and in turn it will do some good for your heart!
The human body is truly an amazing thing. The fact that all the different parts are connected means it is so important we take care of each and every one of them. Be kind to yourself, begin to improve your mental health, and in turn it will help your heart!