So much of the time we talk about the lifestyle changes needed to have a healthy heart, such as exercise, diet, and vitamins but why shouldn’t we address the emotions that affect our hearts? When I was a young girl I used to play a game with my mother in that I would ask her “how much do you love me.” Knowing our game she would reply the same each time, “from the bottom of my heart” giving me a hug as I laughed and gleefully screamed in delight. I remember the heart felt emotion I always felt with this little game.
Emotion and feeling have long been associated with the heart. We have all heard many sayings put together with the word heart; I love you with all my heart, love can break your heart, my heart will go on, my heart is broken, etc. The heart has been associated as being a source of emotion, love, courage, wisdom and possibly the core of our soul. In ancient Greece there was a belief that there was competition between the heart and brain in regard to thinking and feeling or intellect and emotion. In traditional Western medicine we look at the heart primarily as a muscular organ which pumps blood throughout our body giving us the nutrients and oxygen we need in order to survive.
But if we look at the heart in a less traditional fashion, we can learn a lot about keeping our bodies, minds and spirits in better health. According to research in the past few years there is a critical link between the heart and brain with the brain responding to the heart in many ways. Our bodies have a negative response when we experience the following emotions;
9. Repression of negative emotions
Our heart rhythm patterns become more erratic, our stress hormone levels become elevated, our blood vessels can constrict, our blood pressure may rise and eventually our immune system becomes weakened. With consistent or repeated negative patterns of emotion our hearts become overburdened over a period of time affecting how our bodies function.
However our hearts seem to be much happier when we experience the following emotions;
5. A sense of connection
Our heart seems to reflect more harmony showing smoother heart rhythm patterns, lowering of blood pressure and opening of our blood vessels. This all puts less stress on our hearts thereby making the workload less and our bodies function more efficiently in a harmonious state.
If we believe that emotions affect our hearts, and ultimately how our bodies function, then we must practice techniques that change our behaviors or emotions. Some of these practices may include;
1. Upon awaking each morning make a mental list of 5 things that you are appreciative for. Think about each one, and enjoy the good thoughts.
2. Find something positive to focus on for the day, and when the going gets tough think back to that positive focus.
3. Appreciate yourself.
4. If you are having a difficult situation or feeling a negative emotion, change your thinking. Turn it around by reflecting on a past feeling where you felt appreciated, concentrate on that feeling rather than the negative feeling.
5. Learn to communicate your frustration in an acceptable, useful way. Don’t repress things.
6. Find a support structure. Turn to your family, friends for companionship. Do not isolate yourself.
7. Most importantly, learn to understand what you are feeling and be more aware of bad emotions coming into play. If you have difficulty with this one, start a journal for each day and write down your thoughts and feelings to reflect on at a later time. It may help you to get to know yourself.
8. Lastly, smile. You would be surprised that when you smile, the world smiles with you!
Now, when I say to my husband “I love you” I know that not only he’s happy but my heart is happy too.
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