Mental Health and a Healthy Heart
Past generations have treated mental health as a form of “taboo” and for the first time ever our generation is breaking the stigma. It’s no doubt that tending to one’s own mental health is extremely important; however, many people often overlook the link between mental health & physical health-specifically cardiovascular health. A healthy mind is a vital component to keeping a healthy heart, and maintaining a healthy life.
Mental illness can be directly linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and anxiety experienced over a long period of time generally result in high levels of stress. Chronic is correlated with higher levels of cortisol. This hormone is commonly referred to as the “stress hormone” and plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis throughout the body. However, when overproduced, cortisol can negatively affect one’s health. Increased levels of cortisol are linked with increased blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides. These are all common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
Tending to your mental health and keeping your stress level low is an important step in preventing heart disease. There are a multitude of ways that stress levels can be managed. A couple examples are: low impact, jogging, yoga, pilates, or any feel-good exercises.. Meditating can also be beneficial for mental health. Whether you do it for 5 minutes or 30, it is good to take a little bit to clear your head. Finally, if you feel like your stress levels are unmanageable or you are suffering from a mental illness, it's a good idea to reach out to a therapist or psychiatrist. Getting professional help may seem scary but it can have an immensely positive effect on your journey to better mental & physical health.
“Heart Disease and Mental Health Disorders.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 May 2020, www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/mentalhealth.htm.
Iob, Eleonora, and Andrew Steptoe. “Cardiovascular Disease and Hair Cortisol: a Novel Biomarker of Chronic Stress.” Current Cardiology Reports, Springer US, 30 Aug. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6717172/.