10 Tips for Changing your Mindset to Reduce Heart Stress
According to the American Heart Association, approximately 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020. It is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. There are many causes of heart disease, but did you know that your mental and/or emotional health can impact your heart health? The way we act and the way we feel can have a negative impact on our heart. Here are 10 tips to help change your mindset so you can reduce stress on your heart and improve your overall health.
- Holding grudges – Practice forgiveness. Studies show that forgiveness versus holding grudges minimizes stress-related disorders and promotes heart health.
- Lack of self-compassion – A recent study from the American Psychological Association found that people who practice self-compassion have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Think about what you would tell a friend in the same situation and then direct that compassion towards yourself. Lie down and rest, massage your neck, take a walk, practice mindfulness, etc. Anything you can do to improve how you feel physically is self-compassion.
- Perfectionism – Perfectionists worry that if they let go of their meticulousness, it will hurt their performance or standing. But striving to be perfect takes a lot of effort and is very time-consuming. Recognize that if you genuinely want to be a high achiever, you’re bound to do some things imperfectly. Set reasonable goals and allow yourself to make mistakes.
- Impatience – On some level, we are all impatient. But losing control of how you manage that impatience can lead to wrong or rash decision making, impulsivity, and anxiety/stress. Spend time making patience a habit. Taking deep, slow breaths, reframing your thoughts around the source of your impatience, accepting imperfection, and being mindful can all help combat impatience.
- Overworking – Understand that overworking is not necessary for success. Slow down and practice work-life balance along with self-compassion and self-care on a regular basis. Set strict boundaries, prioritize tasks, have realistic expectations, and say “no” if necessary.
- Pessimism – Studies have shown that the way we feel and how we express ourselves can also influence the mood of those around us. If you are spreading negativity when you engage with others, that negativity can have a ripple effect. Try to surround yourself with optimists, focus on solutions rather than problems, and celebrate good things that happen.
- Hostility – Anger is an emotion that everyone feels from time-to-time. It is not wrong or bad to feel anger, but it is a negative emotion that affect not only you but those around you. Fear is often the driving factor behind anger and hostility. Try to understand what makes you afraid, feel the fear, and then let it go. Know that you can let go of anger and still feel in control.
- Rumination – Once you get stuck in a ruminating thought cycle, it can be hard to get out of it. It’s important to stop it as quickly as possible to prevent your thoughts from becoming more intense. Keep your focus in the present instead of ruminating about what has already happened (in the past) or about what might happen (in the future). Distract yourself by taking a walk, calling a friend or making a plan of action to address the issue.
- Suppressing thoughts and feelings– People tend to suppress uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. But this can have a negative long-term effect on all aspects of your health. It’s important to regulate your emotions instead of avoiding or reacting to them. Be aware of the feeling in real time and know that it’s okay to experience whatever it is your feeling.
- Anxiety – Everyone feels anxious at different points in their lives, but if left unchecked, it can affect your quality of life. In addition to eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly, meditation can be very helpful. Just five or ten minutes of meditation a day can lower blood pressure, restore calm in your body, and bring inner peace.
It can be difficult to change your mental habits. St. Luke’s Penn Foundation is here to help. Learn more at www.PennFoundation.org.