Traditionally, February is the month of love. It’s the month where the economy blooms (no pun intended) with millions of dollars in floral purchases, chocolate candy, perfumes, and so much more for our loved ones. Interestingly, February falls right behind January, the month that the fitness centers experience an increase in foot traffic and memberships. It is no surprise that to live a holistic lifestyle and to have a healthy heart of living a long time we need both fitness and healthy food choices.
Holistic living is the connection between mind-body-soul and living life balanced in all areas of your life as can be realistically achieved. Holistic living means living more naturally and being in touch with who you are at the core as well as living off the land as close to nature as possible.
According to the American Health Association, research shows that there is a head-heart connection and that there are biological and chemical factors that trigger mental health issues that could also influence heart disease. Research shows that depression can precede a physical disease and has been linked to heart disease, stroke, some forms of cancer, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, even chronic back pain.
Many mental health issues impact heart health and heart disease. Often when people have suffered from cardiac disease/heart attack they suffer from depression during the recovery. Not only is the fact that your mortality induced your fear but also due to medical complications and biochemical alterations in your body.
While research has not shown a direct link between stress and heart disease, we do know that stress increases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which can influence blood pressure and heart rate. We also know that stress can be one major event or a cumulative series of events that can overwhelm the body’s ability to manage the level and impact of stress on the mind and body.
Additional complicating factors include diet, nutrition, smoking, alcohol use, lack of exercise, and poor stress management. The primary mental health issues that people experience with heart disease is depression and anxiety. It is likely that treatment for the recovering patient may include a psychiatric medication, i.e., an antidepressant or anti-qanxiety agent. Additionally, sleep disturbance is a major contributor to physical and emotional illness. Research on sleep deprivation has shown that it impairs memory and concentration, effects weight gain and obesity, impairs work performance and productivity, delusions and psychosis , and ultimately chronic sleep deprivation can be lethal and cause death.
The key to managing heart-health is gaining holistic wellness. Recovering from heart disease or significantly eliminating the risk of a cardiac crisis and thereby averting a major depression episode or onset of panic attacks and a panic disorder, is to embrace a long term lifestyle change in eating, food choices, physical exercise and mental wellness.
The motivation to longevity and living a healthy lifestyle is also about the freedom to choose and to not feel too constricted. When people feel a loss of control over their life such as a sudden and unexpected heart attack, one’s sense of safety is challenged resulting in restricted living for fear of the next heart crisis or panic attack. A mental health professional can help people return to normal living while providing education about holistic wellness.
This month is going to be filled with hearts and love everywhere. It should be a reminder that we need to love and to take care of ourselves as well mentally, physically , and spiritually. Use February as heart-health month to month where you commit to living well by making changes that will last a lifetime. Remember, self-care is healthcare. Be well!