Odessa, TEXAS (Big 2) – February is Heart Health Month, and your mental health could have a direct impact on your heart. According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive stress can increase heart disease risk, blood pressure levels, and cholesterol. For this week’s segment of “Centers Solutions: COVID Edition,” Kristi Edwards and Melanie Saiz tell us more about the impact of stress and how to combat it.
“Stress management is always a good idea when it comes to our overall health. The physiologic effects of stress on the body–including the heart–is most true in the case of severe and sudden acute stress,” says Centers for Children and Families Executive Director Kristi Edwards.
Edwards explains that an immediate trauma, like the death of a child, in rare cases, can cause the parent to suffer an immediate heart attack, known as “broken heart syndrome.” Even daily stressors can impact your heart health.
“Your fight or flight response is often activated when say, maybe you’re in heavy traffic and you’re running late. Or you have an issue with a coworker, maybe an argument with your child. It kind of makes your heart rate go up, and causes you to feel stressed. In stressful situations, your body releases a flood of chemicals, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare your body for action,” says Centers for Children and Families Marketing & Development Director Melanie Saiz.
Daily stress can also trigger behavior that can hurt your heart, like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, or overeating fatty foods. There are ways to combat heart stress.
“We need people to slow down, get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, get some exercise-if you can, meditate. Everything that you can do that can release some stress or some trauma out of your brain is going to be helpful,” says Edwards.
Other habits that can help you combat stress are to organize your desk at work or your home, practice gratitude, and try a new skill. Those are all ways to keep you calm, and help your heart in the long-run. If you think stress if impacting your health, call your doctor first.Then, you can reach out to Centers to learn some coping skills to adapt to some of life’s stresses, or check out their Facebook page for the latest tips.