The link between your head and your heart may be closer than you think. Stress, anxiety, and depression can all affect your heart health.
The reason is partly behavioral. It’s harder to focus on healthy living when you’re distracted by difficult feelings. Some people fall back into bad habits, such as eating too much unhealthy food, drinking too much alcohol, or smoking. That can take a toll on the heart.
But there may also be a physical link between heart health and emotional well-being. Stress and depression are associated with chemical and physiological changes in your body that may affect heart disease. For example, did you know that stress can trigger tightening in your arteries?
Emotional self-care helps reduce such issues. It won’t magically get rid of every challenge and problem in daily life. But it will give you the tools for dealing with them in a healthy way.
The same good habits that support better heart health are also effective at keeping stress in check. Regular physical activity is a proven stress-buster and mood-lifter. Treating yourself to nutritious foods and plenty of sleep can also improve your mental and physical well-being.
Talking with supportive family and friends is one of the best ways to ease stress and anxiety. Let them know how you’re feeling and suggest possible ways they could help.
You might also want to join a support group for people with your heart condition. Sometimes, it helps to share your experiences with others who are dealing with similar things. You can hear what worked for them. And you can offer your insights in return.
At healthcare visits, tell your provider how you’re feeling emotionally as well as physically. Between visits, if stress, anxiety, or depression start to interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row, let your provider know. If needed, they can prescribe medicine or refer you to a counselor who can help.
These strategies help you take good care of your emotional well-being:
Tackle healthy lifestyle changes one or two at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Tap into the relaxing effects of nature by going for a walk or admiring a sunset.
Make time for de-stressing breaks. Try listening to music, reading a book, practicing yoga, or simply soaking in a warm bath.
Watch a funny video or share a joke. Laughter is great medicine and great therapy.