Last year was the most stressful year for me personally. My father’s critical illness and passing took it’s toll on me emotionally and physically.
As I reflect back, I honestly don’t know how I managed to get through some of those days. There were times when I felt like my heart was leaping out of my chest when I’d see my mom’s number show up on my phone. And the worst, whenever I was with my father and had to call 911, not knowing if he’d make it through.
I knew my stress levels were pretty high and my immune system was pretty low; not to mention spending so much time in the hospital I wasn’t always eating my usual home-cooked and healthy meals.
My father’s nurse whom we came to adore as did my dad took my blood pressure one day during a visit at the house; it was 130/85 and immediately encouraged me to go in the other room, sit down, have a glass of wine, and relax.
This was exactly one year ago.
It stopped me in my tracks. I was shocked by how high my blood pressure got in such a short time. I had never had a higher blood pressure than 118. Ever. At one of my previous health screenings, I was told that I was as healthy as a teenager.
As hard as it was to watch my dad’s health deteriorate, I realized that I wasn’t managing my stress and it manifested through high blood pressure. Yes, stress causes high blood pressure and chronic stress can lead to heart disease and other health issues.
Stress affects all of us and for some more than others depending on what we are dealing with in life (job, relationship issues, health, etc.). Un-managed stress is detrimental to our health emotionally and physically.
But did you know that we can TRAIN the MIND to alleviate stress that triggers majority of health issues today. Our ability to train our mind shifts the blood flow to an area of our brain that helps to improve our immune system, fighting off stress, anxiety & even depression (Integral Health: The Path to Human Flourishing-highly recommend reading).
Some doctors are encouraging their patients to go home and “calm down.” It’s exactly what the nurse did that day and I heeded her advice, even though it was super difficult to do.
It’s been six months since my father has passed away and not a day goes by that I do not think of him. I also know that my dad would want nothing more than for me to carry on with my life as my work is not done on earth and to live healthy and happy.
There are always going to be circumstances that can bring on stress but the key is learning to recognize it and manage it before it wreaks havoc in our health.
In one of my final health courses recently, we covered a lot about stress and it’s effects. I did some research and discovered that those who managed their stress and learned relaxation techniques resulted in reduction of anxiety, negative emotions, improved emotional and physical well being and increased health.
I began to do activities again that I knew reduced stress such as: exercise, Yoga, deep breathing, meditating, and scheduling “calm time” whether it was a trip to the spa, time away from my daily routine or night out with girlfriends. Yes, girlfriends help you de-stress, live healthier and longer. You can read about it in a UCLA landmark study.
All these things that I started implementing in my life again, has manifested in a “clean bill of health” from a recent visit to my doctor for a thorough physical.
It’s so important to know your Cholesterol numbers and if you haven’t been to the doctor in a while, I want to encourage you to schedule a check up. I consider these visits as annoying as they are to be preventative care.
This saying rings true, “An ounce of prevention is a mile of cure and Ignorance is RISK, not Bliss.” (Unknown)
I’m going to share my health results (Cholesterol numbers) with you:
HDL: (good cholesterol-higher the number the better) 60 means you are at low risk for heart disease.
(Mine) 84 & I was told that they don’t see this numbers too often.
LDL: (bad cholesterol): 100 or less would be optimal health.
Cholesterol: Should be under 200 for low risk for heart disease.
Triglyceride: ( most common type of fat in body): 150 or less would be considered normal.
Blood Pressure: At this time 1 Year ago when my dad’s nurse told me to go sit down and relax: 130/85
Mine today: 118/80
I’m so grateful for good health; however, it’s an intentional lifestyle choice that I choose to make every day.
Having a clean bill of health proves to me that we can truly train our mind and body to live healthier and happier.
It’s a journey…..