Heart health is a matter of prime importance for billions of people. To ensure robust heart health, people resort to so many things nowadays. They leave no stones unturned, from changing their diets to trying yoga and medications. However, according to the findings of a new study, there are other ways to enhance your heart health.
To reduce heart health-related issues and complications, using mindfulness practices and self-compassion may be helpful, says the new study revelations. The nice thing is this works regardless of whether a person has heart disease risk factors. The findings of this study were published in the Health Psychology journal.
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The relationship between self-compassion and heart health
The researchers from the University of Pittsburgh carried out this study with 195 women candidates. The group of women was aged between 45 and 67 years of age. They were given the task of filling out a short questionnaire. It was to check their level of self-compassion and perceptions regarding it too.
The candidates were made to undergo an ultrasound of their carotid arteries and some other tests. It was observed that women with elevated self-compassion scales had thinner walls around their carotid arteries and had less plaque formation inside. These arterial features are deemed to be metrics for assessing risk for heart disease.
University of Pittsburgh’s professor Dr. Rebecca Thurston said of the study findings: “A lot of research has been focused on studying how stress and other negative factors may impact cardiovascular health, but the impact of positive psychological factors, such as self-compassion, is far less known.
“These findings underscore the importance of practicing kindness and compassion, particularly toward yourself.” She added that everyone is going through stress, and trying self-compassion can enhance physical and mental health. She was assisted by a team of researchers from the University of Illinois for this study.
The study findings are not exactly surprising, said a section of researchers who were not directly linked with this study. They point out that mental health experts recommend self-compassion activities to help people cope with elevated stress levels. In addition, the study shows loving yourself can be good for your heart health.
How to be self-compassionate
While practicing self-compassion and mindfulness is not easy for everyone, a few things can be tried out. You may, for example, keep a list of encouraging feedback received from others and read it many times a day. In addition, there are self-compassion meditation videos accessible on YouTube.
The researchers said in a press release: “During the pandemic, the stressors have amplified, especially for women… As a result, mindfulness practices, such as meditation, are gaining popularity among U.S. adults. Exhausted from a barrage of stressors at work and in their personal life, people increasingly choose to turn inward to help manage their mood and emotions.”
Dr. Thurston says not many people have the proper perception of self-compassion nowadays. It is not limited to doing activities that feel like pampering yourself, such as enjoying an aromatherapy bath or a body spa session. She thinks women should take the help of mindfulness therapists if necessary.