Happy Heart, Healthy Heart

Earlier this week a colleague of mine shared this article from the New York Times.  “How Emotions can Affect the Heart”, published on October 30, 2018, is a really great read, and can be accessed here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/30/well/live/how-emotions-can-affect-the-heart.html

Humanity has known this instinctively, that the heart is the center of our emotional selves.  It is where we feel love and loss.  We use the symbol of the heart to represent love, and language is filled with references to heartache, heart break, heart song as well as stealing hearts, capturing hearts and filling hearts as metaphors for our experiences of love.  In spite of this, traditional medicine has not made a clear connection between emotions and heart health.  But in this article, Dr. Jauhar argues that “health authorities should list emotional stress as a key modifiable risk factor for heart disease.”

Modifiable risk factor, to me means that changing, processing or resolving emotional stresses actually contributes to heart health.  Learning how to resolve negative feelings and emotions is a key ingredient to heart-healthy living.  And learning strategies to manage stress, as well as making lifestyle choices to eliminate stressors is just as important as diet and exercise.  We need time, space and support to heal upset and to create positive thought patterns.

We read about how “studies have shown that people who feel socially isolated or chronically stressed by work or relationships are more prone to heart attacks and strokes.”  Through his own experiences with heart disease and living a high-stress life, Dr. Jauhar has learned the immense value of “letting patients talk about the things that are bothering them so he can better understand their emotional lives.”  So many times I have had interactions with people or been in relationship with people and I have been called to learn this lesson.  Holding the space.  There is such value in just being with someone and holding the space for them to process their emotional stuff.   Without advice, judgement, labels or fear, compassionate listening allows a space for healing and acceptance.  Compassionate listening is heart listening.

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