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In honor of American Heart Month,  it’s important to share the fact that depression and mental illness can break your heart – literally.

Scientists in several studies found depression caused increased inflammation, abnormal stress hormones, metabolic changes, and changes in heart rate and blood circulation. All these changes impact physical health, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Research published by the American Heart Association also reported, “Women 55 and younger are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, die or require artery-opening procedures if they’re depressed.”

Children and young people who experience complex trauma have higher rates of heart disease and heart attacks as adults.

This research proves mental health is important to heart health.

Managing stress is one way to give your heart a rest. Some things help you avoid and eliminate stress like plenty of sleep, a healthy diet, good work-life balance, and exercise.

Here are just a few things to do to stop stress in its tracks:

Just Breathe. 

Sounds simple, but breathing is the number one way to de-stress.

Close your eyes and visualize.  

Go to a calming place in your mind. Or, think of a favorite memory.

Is it really that bad?

Perceptions color our attitude.  Are we making a mountain out of a mole hill? That’s what our grandmothers would ask us.

Take a walk.

Most times, walking is all you need to shake off stress and come back refreshed and ready to tackle the issue.

The worst thing to do is nothing.

Sitting there and continuing to escalate your stress is bad for your heart. Most importantly, it won’t solve the problem.

Be kind to yourself and your heart by coming up with ways to eliminate stress every day.

Counseling & Recovery Services staff and clients use safety and self-care plans to manage stress. Here are links to create your own plans:
https://crsok.org/safety-plan/

https://crsok.org/self-care-plan/
Here are links to more information about stress and heart health:
http://bit.ly/1p1TLwm

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health-2015/index.shtml#pub2

Here’s wishing you a happy heart.