Use your commute to meditate.
As we celebrate American Heart Health Month, we explore heart health from a holistic sense, examining an array of variables and behaviors that may impact your heart health. When stress is excessive, it can contribute to a litany of health issues such as hypertension and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. So how does stress impact your heart?
Though more research is needed to understand exactly how stress contributes to heart disease, one correlation is strong: stress usually impacts our behaviors, which can then impact our heart health (or disease). For instance, if you are stressed, do you turn to cigarettes, alcohol, stress eating or comfort food? Does your sleeping suffer? Or do you channel stress into positive behaviors like exercise, praying, meditation, journaling, or music?
The topic of stress management is a common theme addressed through Health Advising. I wanted to share a practice that a participant shared with me during one of our sessions, as it may benefit you if you’re feeling stressed. He mentioned he approached his commute to and from work as a time to quiet his mind in prayer, versus listening to music or catching up on phone calls, replaying his work day, etc. A pretty simple concept, right? Plenty of people think of a commute as being a “waste” of your precious time, or even stress inducing. Approaching it from this mindset will allow you to have some structured time for meditation. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude — which can be fostered through meditation — can reduce stress and improve health.
My hope in sharing this anecdote is that next time you’re rushing home or stuck in traffic, you can see your commute as an opportunity to lower your stress instead of contributing to it. Your Health Advisor can support you in your journey, whether it is developing a meditation habit or channeling stress into health promoting behaviors, or anything in between.
– KEELEY MEZZANCELLO, MS, RD, CSCS