The Head and Heart Connection
Updated: Feb 8, 2019
If you’re like me, when I am upset or down, I turn to comfort food. And, it is typically french fries or ice cream, not carrots and celery sticks.
You are more likely to make unhealthy choices when you feel down, stressed, or anxious. And, thinking about your heart health may be last on your list when overwhelmed or in a lower mood.
For decades the connection between heart health and mental health has been underestimated.
As many as 33% heart attack patients report having depression.2. Despite research has not proven a direct correlation between stress and heart disease, it may be an additional risk factor due to the impact stress hormones such as cortisol, glucose, and adrenaline have on your blood pressure and heart rate.
When you have heart disease or stroke, you may also have increased anxiety, stress, or depression. Having these conditions may lead to lack of energy, feeling overwhelmed, and could increase the severity of a heart-related condition.
Recognize your head and heart connection
1. If you are feeling down for a few days, that’s normal and OK. If you continue feeling low for weeks at a time, you may want to seek help.
2. Step into health habits slowly. If you had a regular routine that you gave up on, start to get back into it without pressuring yourself. If you are just beginning, start gradually. Even a simple, 30 minute walk has health benefits.
3. Focus on one new change at a time. You don’t need to “fix” everything at once. Talk with your health care provider and decide what you are wanting to focus on for yourself first.
4. Take care of yourself. Ultimately, you are the only one who can get yourself up and out. Remember what you enjoy, and do more of those things. Maybe it’s reading, listening to music, taking a bath, yoga, meditation, or walking in nature. Prioritize these activities.
5. Discuss how you are feeling both physically and emotionally with our doctor and loved ones. It is important to share both aspects of your daily life so you can get support.
Remember, taking care or your own well-being is equally as important as taking care of your heart.