What is the heart – mind connection?
You know that little voice in your head that you’re always talking to night and day? The one that helps you make decisions like “tacos or Italian” and “should I watch another episode or go to bed?” Some refer to it as their subconscious and some people even consider it their soul. Well, that internal conversation you’re having is really a set of emotion-based signals between your heart and brain known as the heart – mind connection.
Why is the heart – mind connection so important?
Obviously, your brain and heart are pretty important organs on their own, but how they work together may be even more important.
A recent study showed mental stress is a huge risk factor to your heart like smoking or high cholesterol. If your mind is unable to manage your daily stress properly it may lead to poor mental health and increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
On the flip side, people with positive mental health were more likely to have a healthy heart, lower blood pressure, and less inflammation. Additionally, people with better mental health tend to have more fulfilling social relationships and stronger support systems.
How do you achieve a healthy heart – mind connection?
Stay positive. Research has shown that the risk of cardiovascular disease can be reduced with positive emotions. Simply putting forth optimism, humor, fun, forgiveness, and gratitude is good for you. So here are some fun ways to help strengthen your heart and mind connection.
Hug it Out
Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the “moral molecule” or “love hormone” because it is released when you hug, and it may lower your blood pressure and calm your heart rate. So go ahead and become a hugger – it’s good for you!
So, you’ve probably heard that laughing is good for you because it releases endorphins which promote a sense of wellbeing. While this is undeniably true, there is more to the story when it comes to the mind-body connection. Now studies show laughing is good for the heart because it also releases another kind of endorphin called beta-endorphin. These bind to receptors in your heart vessels to release nitric oxide which relaxes the blood vessels. In fact, it’s been shown that people who laugh more have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. So, yuk it up, go have a good belly laugh, a guffaw, or even a chuckle.
Whether you’re cranking your favorite Spotify playlist on your headphones, or playing piano at Carnegie Hall, music has a powerful effect on the heart -mind connection. There’s something about tapping your toe to your favorite tune that slows down your heart rate and helps reduce the body’s inflammation. And the best part is, it doesn’t matter if you like Bad Bunny or Beethoven, any music that moves you will work.
Simple relaxation lowers cardiovascular risks, but if you really want to step up your relaxation game, try mindfulness meditation. It works by combining non-judgmental awareness of your feelings with slow, deep breathing exercises.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve hypertension and depression, while strengthening the immune system and slow aging.
Eating & Exercise
This probably won’t be a huge surprise to you but exercising and eating right can make an enormous difference in every aspect of your wellness. This is especially true for the heart- mind connection. So go for a walk, in nature, if possible, to get your heart pumping and help lower stress levels in the brain.
Of course, a healthy diet is just as important as exercise. Several studies show that eating less meat and more vegetables is good for the heart and helps keep your mind sharp as well as several other health benefits.
CBD and The Mind – Body Connection
One other great tool for supporting your body is CBD. Since it can help you recover from exercise induced inflammation and can also help lower periodic anxiety and counter everyday stress while supporting increased focus and relaxation. This makes CBD the perfect companion on your mental and psychical wellness journey and for strengthening the heart – mind connection.
Now that you know a little more about the mind – body connection, pay more attention to that little voice in your head and make it happy.
Michael Miller, M.D., author of Heal Your Heart