There’s an old saying that some people think with their hearts, while other people think with their minds. Those who think with their hearts think emotionally, of course, while those who think with their minds think analytically. It makes the two seem like polar opposites, when in reality they’re very much related.
When you think about mental health and cardiovascular health, one of the strongest links between the two is stress. Mentally, you’re stressed about work, finances, family, school, etc., and at the same time, this is all taking a toll on your body physically – particularly on your heart.
New research has shown a connection between people who perceive themselves to be under a lot of stress with a higher risk of heart attacks. Likewise, further studies have begun to test for a link between work burnout and a-fib, with findings showing 20% higher odds of developing a-fib after high levels of burnout.
What does this mean for you?
First and foremost, it’s crucial that you prioritize your mental health and well-being. We talk a lot about the importance of keeping your heart healthy, but it starts with having a happy, healthy mentality. To help you improve both your heart and mental health, here are some tips for a happier, healthier heart:
- Exercise – It’s long been known that exercising helps release endorphins into the body, as well as having numerous heart-healthy benefits. A recent survey from the CDC also showed that people who exercise experience fewer days of bad mental health compared to those who don’t exercise.
- Get a Pet – Seriously! Pet ownership, particularly having a dog, has been linked to showing a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Petting dogs has been shown to decrease blood pressure, not to mention the physical benefits of taking your dog for a walk every day.
- Eat Well – Not only can eating well improve your heart and physical health, but studies have also shown a link between what we eat and how we think and feel. Omega-3s, for example, have been shown to protect neurons against chronic stress, control depressive symptoms, and even been linked to more social behavior.
- Take a Personal Day – Feeling incredibly stressed and burnt out at work or at home? Take a day for yourself and focus on your mental health. Do whatever you need to come back refreshed and healthy.
- Talk to Someone – Whether this means reaching out and cultivating your friendships or seeking help from a trusted professional in your area, do not hesitate to reach out and talk to someone. Mental health professionals have a lot of resources and tools these days that can help alleviate the stress you’re carrying.
Worried about how stress is affecting your cardiovascular health? Make sure you tell your cardiologist at your next scheduled appointment.