“Oh my beating heart” and other references about the power of the heart, feature prominently in literature, poetry, movies and music. As the symbol of love, a whole day is dedicated to the power of the heart! Sometimes we clutch at our hearts when expressing happiness or sorrow. Can our heart truly “swell” or “break”?
It may seem silly to think that our feelings have a direct correlation to the actual health of our hearts, however research demonstrates that our emotions can indeed affect our heart health. As famously represented in Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart, we can feel it beating at a faster rate, even “hear” it. The more anxious the narrator becomes, the louder and quicker his heart beats. There are very real consequences of emotional health on the heart.
Studies show a connection between heart health and depression. Poor heart health can contribute to depression and depression can contribute to poor heart health. Conversely, positive emotions can have a favorable effect on our heart health. Johns Hopkins Hospital researchers found the chance of a heart attack is reduced by one-third for those with a positive attitude.
Even the emotions felt from music can affect our heart rhythms. Calming music will slow our heartbeat down and loud dance music will increase our heartbeat. Hospitals have even used music therapy to help heart patients heal.
It’s fascinating that the organ responsible for moving the blood through our bodies is associated with emotions such as love and sorrow. Do you think we give our hearts so much emotional credit because it is such a powerful influence on our health?
It’s key to take care of our emotional heart as we take care of our physical heart. The American Heart Association examines this connection in many ways. February is American Heart Month, dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of cardiovascular fitness. They list not only eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, but developing positive emotional connections and strategies such as gratitude. They promote their Healthy For Good™ campaign including the themes to Eat Smart, Add Color, Move More, and Be Well.
Remember to check out our heart healthy recipes in your recipe box. Just search for your favorite foods, and you’ll be able to easily see which recipes fit your health goals with the green, yellow and red indicators.