While the dangers of heart problems are something everyone should be aware of, women have an extra reason to pay attention. The reality is, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for women.
While many factors contribute to heart health, there’s more to it than diet and exercise. In this blog, we’ll explore how managing stress and mental health are two important pieces of the puzzle that is heart health. This blog is filled with advice for ensuring good heart health for women going forward!
Effects of Stress and Mental Health on the Heart
Stress is a very real and serious threat to heart health. When we experience stress, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode. This means that our hearts beat faster and our blood pressure rises. Over time, this can lead to high blood pressure – a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
Additionally, stress can cause other changes in the body that make it more likely to develop cardiovascular problems, such as the hardening of the arteries. In addition, stress may activate harmful behaviours. This can show up as drug use, alcohol consumption, smoking, and overeating, which can further damage the heart.
Women are especially vulnerable to stress and poor mental health as we are statistically more likely to experience anxiety and depression than men. These two conditions can increase our levels of stress hormones. In turn, this can lead to the same cardiovascular risks as stress itself.
The Impact of Lifestyle Changes
It’s important to remember that the health of your heart is intricately interconnected with the health of your mind. The cardiovascular system not only supplies blood and oxygen to the brain but also regulates stress hormones like cortisol.
High stress levels can lead to hypertension, which strains the heart and can lead to cardiovascular problems. This is why adopting lifestyle changes is crucial. Regular exercise, stress management, and a healthy diet are so important for maintaining a healthy heart. These lifestyle changes don’t only benefit the heart, but they also have a positive impact on mental health.
For example, exercise has been shown to create balance in our lives. Exercise reduces stress hormones and releases endorphins, leading to an improved mood throughout the day. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of exercise. In addition to reduced stress, exercise increases self-esteem, and improves cognitive ability and quality of sleep. These are all key pieces that contribute to overall well-being and are essential to boosting mental health during stressful times.
Furthermore, a healthy diet that limits salt and saturated fat can keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. Making manageable lifestyle changes, such as staying away from smoking, alcohol, or drugs, can significantly reduce feelings of tension and anxiety. These all may offer temporary relief, but finding healthy ways to cope with stress is better in the long run.
Take Your Mental Health to Heart
At the end of the day, you’re in charge of taking care of your health and your heart. Whether you exercise, journal, attend therapy, or spend time with friends and family, by taking care of your mind, you take care of your heart – and the other way around!
At Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic, we understand the impacts of stress and mental health. Through our personal and individualized care program, we aim to help motivated women gain back control of their lives. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about our program and services, please call today or visit our website.