Attitude, outlook and emotional response to stress are more important to your heart’s health than you may realize. You can conquer illness if you keep negative emotions in check, maintain a peaceful environment, and surround yourself with positive people.
It’s no wonder the heart is often the symbol for love and emotion, because it thrives so much on how we exercise our emotions and interact with others. Read on to learn how to keep your heart healthy beyond what you eat.
The Importance of Letting Go
People who freely express negative emotions may live longer after heart attacks. A Belgian study of 300 heart attack survivors found that those who held in their negative emotions – particularly anger and fear – were four times as likely to die within six to 10 years after their heart attacks than a group of survivors who spoke more freely.
Researchers speculate that the emotionally unexpressive types experience greater stress, which causes spasms in the arteries and increases the tendency of blood to clot – both of which contribute to heart problems.
Whether or not you realize it, you’re capable of choosing which emotions you allow to affect your life. You also have the power to let go of negative feelings. The problem is that we tend to let our emotions dictate our behavior and experiences. We react to situations and to people around us instead of taking responsibility for our own feelings. For example, if your boss criticizes you at a meeting, you can feel angry for hours or you can choose to let go of the emotion, forgive the transgressor and dismiss the behavior.
Casting off negative emotions does not mean that you condone bad behavior. It means you are aware of the stress you encounter on a daily basis – and refuse to let it ruin your life.
Inner Peace Keeps Your Heart Beating
Spiritual wellness involves focusing on a higher level of understanding of yourself and others – in other words, learning to love unconditionally, to express gratitude for your life, to forgive yourself and others for past transgressions or perceived failures, and to let go of resentment and anger. Achieve personal peace by quieting your mind and spirit. For a few minutes a day, meditate, perform deep breathing, take a bubble bath, pet an animal, read a book on the beach, or pursue another quiet, contemplative activity.
Your Heart Thrives on Interaction With Others
Numerous studies highlight the harm that comes from social isolation and the benefit that comes from belonging. Heart attack victims face a greater risk of death if they go home to an empty house than if they go home to a spouse or pet. People with lots of close friends have stronger immune systems than people with few friends.
Clean Living Does Your Heart Good
It is common knowledge that eating a variety of healthy foods on a regular basis, avoiding toxins like cigarette smoke and other harmful substances, and getting regular daily exercise is good for you. Fifteen hundred to 2,000 calories a day is also ideal for a good metabolism, depending on your weight and physical activity. Consuming fewer calories (somewhere in this range), as well as minimizing your meat consumption, improves both the quality and quantity of your life. No doubt, your heart will thank you for it as well.