Don't get buried under life's lemons
Here in the Northeast, we call these the "dog days" of summer.
And when it's hot and humid like this, I appreciate a good afternoon storm to cool things down and wash all that stickiness away.
If only it were so easy to wipe the slate clean of life's other problems!
Life gives everyone lemons from time to time. But if it feels like the sun rarely comes out for you... and your anxiety about your troubles never seems to "blow over"... you don't want to just grin and bear it.
ESPECIALLY if you have heart disease (or think you may be at risk for it).
Because according to a new study, living with chronic psychological distress makes it more likely that you'll die from heart disease... or, for that matter, any cause.
The study, published in the journal Heart, involved 475 coronary artery disease patients who reported on how much psychological distress they felt in their lives over a four-year period.
Twelve years later, it turned out that those who regularly suffered from moderate or severe psychological distress in the first four years of the study were THREE times more likely to die of any cause, compared to those who suffered only occasional or mild distress.
And here's the kicker for your ticker: The most distressed participants were FOUR times more likely to die of heart disease compared to the least distressed!
The theory is that mental anguish can make your body go into "fight or flight" mode, which boosts your levels of stress hormones.
Over time, those hormones can contribute to elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even diabetes -- all risk factors for heart disease.
We already know that heart disease is America's number one killer, so why do ANYTHING to give it a helping hand?
If you're struggling with anxiety, depression, or anything else that's got you feeling down, it's not hopeless. Here are a few simple steps you can take to clear those clouds away:
- Talk it out: Don't be afraid to share your stresses with a friend, family member, clergy member, or professional. Studies show that having social support is critical to making sure life's struggles don't keep you down.
- Step outside: The vitamin D you soak up from the sun while outdoors is a natural mood-booster, but studies show that even just LOOKING at the birds, trees, and other greenery in your own "Garden of Eden" can lift your spirits.
- Strike a pose: The gentle activity of yoga boosts "feel-good" brain chemicals, while its calming meditation component helps you weather whatever storm is brewing.
- Boost your bugs: Balancing your gut with probiotics ("good" bacteria) has been shown to ease your mind.
But whatever you do, you don't want to start popping antidepressant pills. Those drugs come with some pretty scary side effects -- and half the time, they don't even work!
Instead, there are safe, natural supplements like magnesium, gingko, and St. John's wort that can all ease depression and/or anxiety. Talk to a doc who's well-versed in integrative medicine about finding the right regimen for you.