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Depression and stress hurt health

Michele Howe is the happily bleary-eyed book reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Read Michele's parenting column at: www.bizymoms.com/experts/michele-howe/index.html and about her newest book release, Still Going It Alone: Mothering with Fai...

Manage stress & better your health

Depression, negative emotions and stress take a toll on your mental wellbeing but also have a significant detrimental effect on your overall physical health. Here are four ways you can better manage your emotions and improve your health.

Woman doing yoga

Emotions play a role in health

According to Dr Lauri Grossman DC CCH, RSHom(NA), a New York based physician, although heart disease is quite common in today's world, it was a medical rarity before the 1900's. Since that early period of our country's history, it has become increasingly apparent that emotional well-being plays a major role in the health of the heart.

"If women were empowered to better deal with stress, the incidence of heart disease would drop significantly," says Dr Grossman, who specializes in integrative medicine.

Emotional duress hurts the heart

When a person is struggling with depression, grief, and loss, heart disease increases for two primary reasons, according Dr Grossman.

First, depressed people often stop caring for themselves and exhibit unhealthy behaviors, such as poor eating, lack of exercise, and not getting adequate sleep. Over time, this lack of self-care begins to take a physical toll.

Second, when a woman is dealing with various negative emotions, arteriosclerosis, or thickening of the inside walls of the coronary arteries, can occur. It is the thickening of these walls that eventually can slow down or block the flow of blood to the heart and brain that can then lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Learn how anger is hurting your health

Managing stress and emotions is key to health

More and more research indicates that managing stress can improve health and reduce a person's risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease.

Dr Grossman says, "Women who have the tools to deal with sadness and depression have better heart health." She suggests four "help yourself" tips: yoga, venting, helping others and homeopathic support.

4 Ways to manage stress

1. Yoga and meditation

Even the most skeptical individual will feel more at ease after trying a program of yoga and daily meditation. According to Dr Grossman, the simple exercise of purposefully slowing down and disciplining one's mind and body does wonders. Meditating itself brings a calming sense of clarity and focus that spills over into the rest of the day's activities.

Learn how to meditate in a busy world

2. Talk about it

When a woman joins a support group and can express her honest cares and concerns in a safe environment, her stress levels drop. This factor alone can reduce the risk of heart attack or prevent a second one from happening. Emotional camaraderie counts as one of the strongest "medicines" around and it's also cost effective!

Journaling is another effective way to relieve stress

3. Lend a helping hand

Many women find that by helping others less fortunate than themselves, they are better able to let go of their loss and lessen those all too intense emotions. Keep it simple. Help prepare meals in a soup kitchen, volunteer in a hospital or school. Offer your talents (or just a listening ear) to the seniors at a community center. If you can cook, act, sing or garden, then someone out there can benefit. Search for the place where your skills and another's need connect.

Find ways to volunteer

4. Homeopathic remedies for grief

Homeopathic medicines are all-natural remedies that can provide tremendous emotional relief and support for the grief and sorrow stricken individual. Dr Grossman says, "Most women who suffer from intense feelings of sadness will discover their symptoms often lessening significantly within days, and sometimes even hours, after treatment."

See a professional homeopath for directions on incorporating these medicines as part of your self-care:

  • Ignatia eases the sadness that comes on immediately after a loss, especially when it is accompanied by uncontrollable crying or mood swings.
  • Aurum metallicum is helpful for the woman who feels like things are hopeless. She frequently pushes herself beyond what is reasonable and becomes overly serious in her thinking.
  • Natrum muriaticum is recommended when a person wants to withdraw after a loss and holds her emotions in instead of letting them out.

The herbal medicine cabinet

View your health wholistically and remember that taking care of your emotional health is a significant factor in taking care of your physical health.

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