Practicing Mindfulness Can Improve Heart Health
Mind and body health doesn’t happen in only the kitchen or the gym. It happens everywhere, when you practice mindfulness toward yourself, your surroundings, your community—essentially, your whole world. Because February is American Heart Month, it’s a great time to begin being extra aware of how we can get in tune with our minds in ways that actually reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and ultimately improve heart health.
There are mindfulness methods both small and large that we can incorporate into everyday living. Find some examples below of tips and tricks to start incorporating mindful practices today.
Slow down. Relaxation doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but forcing yourself to slow down is a skill that pays off in the wellness department. Practice techniques for breathing deeply throughout the day by slowly, deliberately inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Especially when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, acknowledging your feelings and allowing yourself to take a break and go for a walk, write a gratitude list, or even just take 10 seconds to breathe deeply will allow you to gather your thoughts and approach the stressful situation calmly. These types of practices can lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Get quality ZZZ’s. A good night of sleep increases productivity, improves awareness, and lowers risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, according to the
but one in three American adults gets less than the recommended amount of sleep. In a world obsessed with technology, the very thing that keeps us connected to others, our smartphones, are often the things that hinder our sleep quality. Try moving your phone away from the bed, dimming the brightness, setting an alarm for yourself to go to bed, or setting it to “Do Not Disturb” at night to allow for less disruption to your sleep from your phone.
Roll out the ol’ yoga mat. Being mindful doesn’t always mean being still. Yoga allows for a calm internal reflection period while providing challenging poses for the body. It enhances whole body health, aiding in mental focus, breathing, meditation, relaxation, strength, and flexibility. The ancient practice that combines different movements and postures pushes the mind to stay at ease while the body is stretching and exerting strength.
Give meditation a go. Research shows that meditation, the act of sitting quietly and focusing on breathing, reduces inflammation, supports the immune system, slows cognitive effects of aging, increases the ability to process information, controls the brain’s response to pain, improves sleep, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease, and reduces symptoms of menopause. These effects are enough to give meditation a shot, even if you find it difficult to sit still (many people do!). Start with just a few minutes in a quiet and calm setting, focusing on breathing slowly and deeply, and as it becomes easier, add more time for increased health benefits.