Worry and stress affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system, and profoundly affects heart action. ~ Charles W. Mayo, M.D.
I have wondered if it’s chicken or egg. What came first. Did the stress Bill was experiencing contribute to the inflammation in his body? Or did the inflammation and hormonal imbalance created by being overweight contribute to his stress. It seemed he had a great difficulty in controlling his level of stress and anxiety in the recent years before his heart attack.
One of the many good things that came from his heart attack was his instant refocus of his emotional self! He knew we had to do all the things that were in his power and control to restore his health, and we firmly believed at this point that stress had been a big contributor to his heart disease.
It’s one thing to make the decision and be disciplined about eating well and exercising. But it seems to me it’s quite another to control stress. We’re all different. Our triggers are unique to our personality and our life. In Bill’s case, he’d had a lot of things pile up in recent years, including the loss of both of his parents. Unfortunately his grief, stress and anxiety were greatly magnified during these recent years by the fact he had developed chronic pain as a result of stenosis in his lower spine. And to make matters worse, it made it nearly impossible for him to exercise.
Bill literally made the decision to immediately give up stress while he lay on the hospital bed in CCU the day of his heart attack. He has been a different person since. I know it has not always been easy. There have been many times when he would start to say something and then pause.. and start again, rephrasing what he was going to say, re-setting his emotions. But with each passing month I see it getting easier. Because he feels stress and anxiety less often, he is far more aware of it when it occurs. I see that he grows more and more accustomed to staying happy and emotionally balanced. Exercise really helps! And we’ll talk about that next.
Amazingly his substantial weight loss and daily exercise has caused his pain from stenosis to all but disappear! Surprise! No question the lack of pain has helped him tremendously to be happier and control his stress.
In my opinion you really have to stay on your toes with this one–to not let yourself fall back into old patterns. And it can be especially difficult considering most people suffer with depression after a heart attack.
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” ~George Burns (who lived to be more than 100 years old!)