The Heart-Mind Connection
The American Heart Association has been doing considerable research to determine the significance between heart and mental health. They have found substantial evidence to prove that each plays an important role in how the other functions.
Much of the research done by the American Heart Association has proven that not only are the heart and mind connected but that they are often dependent on each other. If something impacts the heart, it can also affect the mind and vice versa. One of the most significant findings from this research is that while poor mental health can have a negative impact on heart health, it is also true that positive mental health can help reduce risks and improve heart health. With these findings, at Memorial Community Hospital and Health Systems (MCH) Senior Life Solutions we now know that adding interventions to help people cultivate positive mental health can significantly impact improving heart health. So, if you are looking for ways to reduce stress, emotional strain, and/or your risk of heart-related disease, WE WANT TO HELP. Below are three ways to get you started on your journey to improved health for your heart and mind.
- Meditation -Several studies published in the Journal of the American Heart Association have shown that meditation can considerably impact heart health by reducing stress, improving heart rate, and reducing the risk of heart-related death.
A few tips to get you started on your meditation journey include:
- Do your best to sit quietly while concentrating on taking slow, deep breaths.
- Block out a time to meditate each day-5 to 10 minutes to start is great.
- To enhance the experience, try adding in peaceful music or white noise.
- There are several places to find guided meditations, such as a free phone app, or podcasts like Purely Being and Mindful in Minutes.
- Positive Psychology Techniques-These techniques are designed to focus on each person’s strengths and behaviors to help them build a happy, fulfilled life. Techniques that have proven to be effective may include:
- Acts of kindness: This action not only helps those around you but has been proven to help boost your mood. A few simple ideas to try, buy coffee for a stranger, help a friend with errands, or tell someone you love their outfit at the store.
- Developing Meaning: This one will take some time but can significantly improve your overall well-being. To do this, you will write on the three separate topics, who you were in the past (1-2 pages), who you are now (1 page), and who you see yourself being the future (1 page). Once you have completed each section, save them somewhere you can refer to and know that topics 2 & 3 can always change and evolve.
- Gratitude journal: Often, people focus on the negatives, especially when struggling physically or emotionally. A gratitude journal allows you to take the focus off of the negatives and place it on the good in your life.
- Seek professional help: Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and wellbeing, so just like other areas of your health you may at times need to seek additional support from a professional. There are various ways someone can receive the support they need, including individual or group therapy, teletherapy, support groups, and much more. Mental health support has been proven to help reduce stress and improve the quality of life for those it serves by helping provide a space to identify problems, build coping skills, and find unbiased support.
Senior Life Solutions is MCH’s program, designed to meet the unique needs of individuals typically 65 and older experiencing depression and/or anxiety related to life changes that are often associated with aging. If you or someone you know is struggling with a recent heart-related diagnosis or a decline in emotional health, our program wants you to know we are here to help. Whether through our program, or another service, our team works to identify and address the emotional needs of those in our community and provide support.
If you would like more information, education, or would like to discuss support, please call (402) 533-4448.