Mental health and physical health, both mind and body, are linked. We already know this from this previous blog post, that optimism and happiness can improve heart health. In Canada, mental health is one of the leading causes of disability and half of all Canadians aged 40 and above have either experienced or currently live with a mental illness.
According to the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, mental illness does increase your risk for heart disease and other chronic physical conditions. Mental illness, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, have been identified as risk factors for cardiovascular disease in many research studies, and it can develop following a heart disease diagnosis or recent cardiovascular episode.
How Stress is Connected to Heart Disease
Stress is connected to heart disease in that when your body experiences stress, your blood pressure rises as a reaction to a perceived harmful event, and high blood pressure can lead to heart disease. Some sudden and extreme cases of stress can cause a heart attack, and chronic stress can lead to unhealthy habits which affects the heart negatively. Managing stress is good for both your physical and mental health.
How Anxiety is Connected to Heart Disease
While there is not a confirmed link between anxiety and heart disease, there is strong evidence that supports the connection between anxiety and heart disease because symptoms of anxiety put extra strain on one’s heart, such as: rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and decreased heart rate variability.
How Depression is Connected to Heart Disease
Like anxiety, there is no confirmed link between depression and heart disease. Although, depression is linked to heart disease in that those suffering from depression tend to develop heart disease at a higher rate than those without depression. For those who have recently been diagnosed with heart disease or following a cardiac event such as a heart attack, depression or feelings of despair and sadness may develop, which make healing all the more difficult.
Tips for Managing Mental Illness
Managing mental health is important in protecting your overall well being and preventing heart disease. If you or someone you know is living with or experiencing mental health issues, it is important to address them immediately. Implementing the right support systems and seeking professional help is crucial when it comes to keeping your head above water. There are also simple lifestyle changes that will help to manage mental illness that you can start implementing immediately.
Here are some positive changes to make to your daily life to improve and manage your mental health:
- Eat healthy food. Eating healthy food can lower anxiety, and foods rich in zinc and magnesium have shown to decrease anxiety.
- Exercise. Physical activity releases endorphins, lowers blood pressure, strengthens your heart, and helps you to maintain a healthy weight. All of these reduce stress and feelings of anxiety and despair.
- Meditate. Meditation has shown to reduce risk factors of heart disease, such as high blood pressure. Meditation can be as simple as sitting quietly for a few minutes and focusing on your breathing.
- Do activities you enjoy. Spending time doing activities that you enjoy will relieve stress, and promote positivity and relaxation. Things such as bubble baths, dancing, listening to music, scrapbooking, and reading are good ways to relax and unplug.
Not only will taking care of yourself will boost your self-confidence, it will contribute to a more positive outlook on life.
Psychological First Aid
Here at First Edition AED, we recognize and understand the connection between mental and physical health. Both are essential aspects of health and that is why we are introducing Psychological First Aid Training. This training is offered both online and in class:
- Psychological First Aid Full Course – This PFA Full Course is for anyone and aims at reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. It promotes positive conversations about health and wellness in all environments. Learn more and register here.
- Psychological First Aid Self-Care – This self-directed online course is for anyone interested in learning self-care practices and strategies to promote healthy psychological wellbeing. Learn more and register here.
- Psychological First Aid Caring For Others – This self-directed online course is for everyone looking to develop the skills necessary to help others cope with stress. Learn more and register here.
Take care of yourself and those you love by learning, recognizing, and practicing self-care and healthy coping strategies. Living with heart disease is possible and taking care of both mental illness and heart disease is essential for a healthier life. A healthy mind will promote overall positive wellbeing in yourself.