Taking care of your mental health and wellness is an important part of prevention and management of cardiac health.
What is mental wellness and how does it affect my heart?
There are simple ways that you can promote mental wellness and reduce stress in your life, which will help you manage your heart health as well:
- Regular exercise
- Practicing mindfulness
- Connecting with others to reduce social isolation
- Getting professional help for mental wellness
How can exercise improve my mental and physical wellness?
Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce stress and positively affect your mental wellness. You might be surprised to find that when you start moving you may have more self confidence, experience better sleep, see a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety and have the energy to engage in more social interaction and activities.
Finding an activity that you can integrate into your current lifestyle is key to starting and maintaining regular physical activity. Examples of physical activity can include going for regular walks, biking, swimming, dancing, practicing yoga, joining a team sport, playing golf, lifting weights or engaging in a seasonal activity such as snow shoeing or paddle boarding.
How does practicing mindfulness work to improve my mental wellness?
Practicing mindfulness is another way to promote mental wellness by reducing stress, promoting sleep and helping you feel more balanced and connected. According to the British Heart Foundation, there is growing evidence that practicing mindfulness may contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Mindfulness is defined as the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation, utilizing physical relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.
How does reducing social isolation work to improve my risk of heart disease?
Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease. Meaningful social interactions and support may act as a preventative measure for the heart by reducing chronic stress and unhealthy coping strategies, which are often associated with loneliness.
If you are looking to to reduce social isolation and increase your social supports you can try:
- Developing a new hobby
- Volunteering in the community
- Joining a community or neighbourhood group
- Joining a book club, gardening club or hiking club
- Enrolling in a course to learn a new skill
- Joining an exercise class or sports team
- Connecting online with family and old or new friends
To learn about more ways to expand your social connections and reduce isolation, you can visit:
When should I seek professional help to maintain my mental wellness?
If you continue to find it challenging to manage your stress or are experiencing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, it may be time to seek professional support and help. You can start by speaking with your family doctor or connecting with a local counsellor to discuss coping strategies to manage your stress. Counselling services may be covered or partially covered by your extended health benefits.
To find a counsellor visit: