February marks American Heart Month. After the challenging circumstances
that first presented themselves in 2020, it’s more important than
ever for us to acknowledge the connection of the mind and body; specifically,
the connection of the mind and the heart.
In a world where many of us already live with daily stressors, the rise
of COVID-19 has raised anxiety and stress for many, which over time, if
not treated, can increase our risk of developing heart disease. On the
other hand, being diagnosed with heart disease can do a number on our
mental state, taking us down emotionally overwhelming roads that may lead
If you are someone that is currently battling depression or has been diagnosed
with heart disease, it is important to recognize the impact on your physical
and mental state. The good news is the heart and the mind have the ability
to help each other in a positive way. Taking care of both your body and
mind can reduce the likelihood of future heart attacks and strokes, even
in those already diagnosed with heart disease.
An article by Johns Hopkins Medicine stated, “Maintaining a positive
attitude about treatment and holding the belief that our actions can have
a beneficial effect on our own health are very important. A person’s
attitude seems to have a powerfully favorable effect on their ability
to make behavior and lifestyle changes that are often necessary to reduce
the risk of having future heart problems. A person’s attitude also
influences the response to treatment.”
Maintaining a positive attitude through a difficult health diagnosis is
easier said than done. It’s necessary to recognize that for some
it is not always an easy task to reach a better mindset, and will often
require patience, work, and help. If you are someone that has been diagnosed
with heart disease and is struggling emotionally, having honest conversations
with loved ones can be a great place to start. Chances are, they are working
through a lot of emotions themselves, and opening up to one another may
relieve some stress for both of you.
There are actions we can all take to help calm both our hearts and our
minds, leading to a longer, happier, and more relaxed life. Things like
exercise and a balanced diet can be incredible tools when it comes to
building a healthy heart and mind, but it is important to remember that
all of our bodies need different things. Talk to your doctor about safe
and healthy changes you can make for yourself when it comes to diet and exercise.
For some of us, the thought of making changes may seem a bit overwhelming,
and that’s ok. Finding ways to relieve stress should be far from
stressful, and sometimes we need to start with something small. Here is
a list of simple suggestions that may leave you a little bit more relaxed,
as well as one step closer to a healthier heart-mind connection:
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath
- Sit down and listen to calming music
- Go to a park and take in nature
- Think about the things you are grateful for
- Pay attention to the flavors in your food
- Have a kind conversation with yourself
- Acknowledge your current emotion and allow yourself to feel that way
- Connect with a supportive loved one
If you’re someone living with heart disease, fighting depression,
caring for a loved one, or are looking to take preventative steps for
your health, remember that it’s ok to seek help. You don’t
have to do it alone.
This article was submitted by Kirby Medical Center, Senior Life Solutions.
Kirby Senior Life Solutions is an intensive outpatient group therapy program designed to meet the
unique needs of senior adults living with symptoms of age-related depression
or anxiety, dealing with difficult life transitions, a recent health diagnosis,
or the loss of a loved one. Following an individual assessment, patients
meet up to three times per week in a supportive, encouraging group setting.
Referrals to the program can be made by anyone, including a patient’s
physician, family member, self-referrals, or another healthcare professional.
For more information, call 217-817-8525 or visit
https://www.kirbyhealth.org/services/senior-life-solutions/. The program is located at 2 Sage Crossing Blvd Ste B, Monticello IL.