Stress and Heart Health

Stress and Heart Health

stress and heart health

Stress and Heart Health

In the blog earlier this month we discussed risk factors for heart disease and nutrients and dietary tips to minimize those risk factors. To continue the discussion for heart health month I want to talk about stress. Stress is a major contributor to heart disease because it instigates behaviors that increase the risk for heart disease. When we are stressed we are more likely to smoke, make unhealthy dietary choices, sleep less, lack physical activity, and consume alcohol. These behaviors are what cause inflammation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of energy, and nutrient insufficiency. Therefore, how do we get rid of stress and promote and healthier lifestyle? We here Living Health Integrative Medicine are committed to helping you live your best life, and providing you the resources to do so! Below are my top tips for reducing and managing stress:

This is one of the easiest ways to reduce our stress response because we can do it anywhere at any time. Although breathing is something we do automatically, it is something we can also learn to control. Breathing can help induce relaxation, reduce anxiety, promote sleep, and increase oxygen in the body. One of my favorite breathing exercises is one called 4-7-8:

  • Sit up straight and start by exhaling completely through your mouth making a whooshing sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a mental count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound to a count of 8.
  • Repeat three or more times.


Meditation helps us to control our negative thoughts and quiet our mind. There are many forms of meditation but one simple meditation for beginners involves focusing on a single point such as breathing, repeating a single word or mantra, focusing on a candle flame, or counting beads on a mala. When you notice a random thought, simply let it go, and bring your focus back to the object of choice. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves. The ability to meditate may be challenging for some at first but can develop with practice. Beginners may find it easier to follow a guided meditation instead. Below are some resources for guided meditation downloads and phone apps: Free Downloads breathing and body scan meditations. In English and Spanish Collection of guided meditations on Spotify Free guided meditations from The Chopra Center

Calm: App that includes guided mediations that vary in length to fit your schedule, relaxing music, Sleep Stories, and unguided timed meditations. They offer both free and paid subscription options.

Insight Timer: Top rated free meditation app on Android and iOS stores. 1,560 of the world’s best meditation teachers and musicians. 7,200 free guided meditations, music tracks, talks and courses.

Eat Right Now: App that helps to address cravings, emotional triggers, and negative behaviors around food using meditation and mindfulness.

Am I Hungry?®Virtual Coach: App to help end mindless and emotional eating. $2.99 on Android and iOS stores.

For those who have difficulty sitting still may benefit from more active meditation such as walking meditation, qi gong, tai chi, yoga, or dance meditation.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
The underlying principle of EFT is that all emotions and thoughts are forms of energy; this energy, whether positive or negative, has very real physical manifestations that affect all functions of the body. Like acupuncture and acupressure, EFT, or tapping, is a set of techniques which utilize the body’s energy meridian points. You can stimulate these meridian points by tapping on them with your fingertips – literally tapping into your body’s own energy and healing power. You can find a simple video demonstration of this technique here.

It is very easy to feel overwhelmed by the many things that you perceive that you HAVE to do, but it’s just as important to remember to also take some time to do things that you WANT to do. Self-care can be things like exercise, pampering yourself with a spa treatment or massage, reading a book, prayer, connecting with a friend or family member, starting a new hobby, taking a trip, or something as simple as stating self-affirmations. It can be anything that you choose. Taking time to do something that brings you pleasure and takes care of your mind, body, and soul can build resiliency and help you manage life’s challenges and those things you feel are out of your control and stressing you out.

For more information about supplements to help handle stress check out our blog post: Supplement Support to Kick Stress Goodbye!