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The link between your brain and your heart

February is American Heart Month. Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, is the number 1 killer of women and men in the United States. You might think heart disease is linked only with physical activities. But while a lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and excessive drinking do heighten the risk of cardiovascular problems, your thoughts, attitudes and emotions are just as important. Stress, depression, anxiety and other serious mental health disorders can not only accelerate the onset of heart disease, but also get in the way of taking positive steps to improve your health or that of a loved one.

 

Thusly, those prone to depression and/or other mental health disorders can benefit greatly from pursuing a heart-healthy lifestyle. This is easier said than done, but here are some tips for turning your bad habits into healthy ones:

 

  • Break a big goal into smaller short-term goals. Rather than trying to address multiple risk factors at the same time, identify one key behavior change.
  • Tell someone you trust – not someone who will sabotage you. Be accountable to someone all the time.
  • Allow a “cheat” once in a while. If you’ve exercised and avoided sweets all week, one piece of pie isn’t going to hurt.
  • Break the TV habit in favor of exercise. Then once you’ve exercised, you can reward yourself by watching a show or two. Or, if you have room, you can exercise in front of the TV.

 

For more information on the connection between mental health and heart health, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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