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Take Your Emotional Health to Heart

Published on Feb. 21, 2022

two men talking on the porch

The link between your head and your heart may be closer than you think. Stress, anxiety, and depression can all affect your heart health. The reason is partly behavioral. It’s harder to focus on healthy living when you’re distracted by difficult feelings. Some people fall back into bad habits, such as eating too much unhealthy food, drinking too much alcohol, or smoking. That can take a toll on the heart.

But there may also be a physical link between heart health and emotional well-being. Stress and depression are associated with chemical and physiological changes in your body that may affect heart disease. For example, did you know that stress can trigger tightening in your arteries?

Emotional self-care helps reduce such issues. It won’t magically get rid of every challenge and problem in daily life. But it will give you the tools for dealing with them in a healthy way. Read on as Terri Lacroix-Kelty, LMSW Director of Behavioral Health at Munson Medical Center shares tips on how to improve your emotional health. 

Mind your physical health

older woman meditating outsideThe same good habits that support better heart health are also effective at keeping stress in check. Regular physical activity is a proven stressbuster and mood-lifter. Treating yourself to nutritious foods and plenty of sleep can also improve your mental and physical well-being.

“Our physical health affects our mental health, which affects our physical health,” LaCroix-Kelty shares. “True wellness comes from paying attention to and treating the whole person.”

Build connections to others

Talking with supportive family and friends is one of the best ways to ease stress and anxiety. Let them know how you’re feeling and suggest possible ways they could help.

Be open with your provider

At healthcare visits, tell your provider how you’re feeling emotionally as well as physically. Between visits, if stress, anxiety, or depression start to interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row, let your provider know. If needed, they can prescribe medicine or refer you to a counselor who can help.

woman reading a book outsideImprove your mental outlook

These strategies help you take good care of your emotional well-being:

  • Tackle healthy lifestyle changes one or two at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Tap into the relaxing effects of nature by going for a walk or admiring a sunset.
  • Make time for de-stressing breaks. Try listening to music, reading a book, practicing yoga, or simply soaking in a warm bath.
  • Watch a funny video or share a joke. Laughter is great medicine and great therapy.
  • Choose to be around positive people or those who bring out the best in you. 
  • Do something for others. Helping out, even in simple ways, can make a big difference. 

Create your Wellness Routine

It can be challenging to find time in your day to accomplish steps toward each of your priorities, including your mental and physical health. Download the Wellness Routine Toolkit. Created by a team of Munson Healthcare professionals, this toolkit helps you organize your priorities, set goals, and create a routine that works for you. 

Download the Wellness Routine Toolkit