For centuries the heart has been considered the seat of the soul and emotion. In a way it feels as i
For centuries the heart has been considered the seat of the soul and emotion. In a way it feels as if the heart creates these feelings or that our emotions somehow arise from the heart. Isn’t the heart just a muscle, an organ that moves blood through our bodies?
We know that lifestyle choices contribute to the wellness or disease of our hearts but do our emotions affect the heart?
To get the answers to these and other questions about the heart I went to the source.
An otherwise shy and behind the scenes kind of player I managed to secure an interview with a healthy, midlife, women’s heart.
And she’d like your attention!
GAC: Do you feel taken for granted?
HEART: "I know it’s easy to take me for granted, that’s ok, that’s how I like it. The last thing I want to do is interrupt your life with an episode just so I can get a little attention."
GAC: What brings you to this newsletter today, what would you like to say to the readers?
HEART:"First of all I’m excited to have the opportunity to speak to these smart women because midlife is the time in their lives when more than ever they must practice what they’ve heard about healthy eating, exercise, not smoking etc. I may be a lowly pumping station but I’ve got needs too.
GAC: Now come on, as a coach, I have to remind you that talking about yourself in that way—'A lowly pumping station', is not very supportive and can even lead to unnecessary stress.
HEART:"You are so right and stress is something we must talk about. I guess I was reflecting the habits of so many women, to devalue themselves—very unhealthy. Let me rephrase; I do recognize my place in the body, I’m a vital organ. Sometimes folks forget just how vital. They put pressure on me by playing the 'no time' card over and over again rather than get to the gym or go for a walk. If I’m not in shape, no one’s in shape and the huffing and puffing going up the stairs is like an IM from me asking you for a little help.
GAC: What kind of help?
HEART: "It’s a plea. For one person it might be please stop smoking, for someone else it might be drop a few pounds, but for so many it’s a plea to stop hurting."
GAC: Hurting like my knees hurt? I’ve heard that pain increases blood pressure and makes you work harder.
HEART:"Well that’s one way I have to work harder and pain management is crucial to my health and our quality of life. But I was referring to heartache brought on by chronic negative situations
GAC: Wow, like if I live or work with someone who disrespects me I could be hurting you in a physical way not just an emotional way?
HEART:"It’s that simple and much too complex to go into any further here but this is the bottom line. Science has proven that negative emotions lead to increased disorder in the heart's rhythms and in the autonomic nervous system, thereby adversely affecting the rest of the body."
GAC: Does any kind of stress do damage?
HEART:"It’s not so much the stress but how you relate to your stress. My brain—yes I’ve got one too and a whole new science called neurocardiology studies it—sends out neurological, energetic, and hormonal responses to how you relate to the stress in your life. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that circulate so you are ready to fight or fly away are produced regardless of the stressor. The key is to release them with exercise, meditation, or other methods of relief. I don’t want to alarm anyone but chronic circulating cortisol is a silent killer."
GAC: How can we support you and limit the effects of our everyday stresses?
HEART:"For the most seriously stressed and we’re talking daily sadness, oppression, or loneliness, get help. Get counseling, get a group for support, get out of the place that you know you must get out of. Do what it takes to live life on your terms."
GAC: I can back you up here. I was reading a report from Johns Hopkins before our interview and it said this, "Research in the last few years have thrown some light on the ill effects of anxiety, loneliness, and anger on the health of the heart. An 'anxious heart' can lead to a fatal outcome
GAC: I think I speak for most of us here that we had no idea of the strong link between emotional health and heart health. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
HEART:"Listen to me when I whisper, a little pain here, a flutter there. Don’t wait for me to have to steal the show to get you to take action. You know what I need and it’s not much to ask. A bit of heavy breathing, (I’m talking exercise here), some delicious healthy food, share a glass of wine now and again, and most of all live your values and value yourself first. Feel deeply but release the feelings of pain. It’s the best way to keep me where I belong, behind the scenes, ticking away."