- Research is pointing to our heart as being more than just an organ responsible for pumping blood around our bodies
- Our emotions have an effect on our heart rate and our heart rates have a distinct influence on our long term health
- Researchers have found that a positive emotional state positively influences our heart activity, and thus our overall health
How intelligent is your heart?
The heart is probably the most symbolic organ in the human body. Across cultures we associate the heart with our emotions, passions and desires. The heart is where we carry our love for others, feel romance and where the pain emanates from when a loved one leaves. In medical terms, however, the heart is just considered a pump that circulates blood around the body to provide oxygen and other nutrients to the tissues. Meanwhile the brain is responsible for our emotions. Some argue the heart has its own emotional intelligence, but whatever future research will reveal in this respect it’s been established and accepted that a bidirectional influence exists between the brain and the heart, and that the heart responds to our emotions.
When we feel afraid or stressed, the sympathetic nervous system releases noradrenalin and adrenalin – stress hormones that cause our heart rate to increase. When we relax, the parasympathetic nervous system helps the heart rate to decrease. But it goes much further than that. Researchers from the Institute of HeartMath have observed that positive emotional states are associated with a distinct shift in heart activity and that heart activity can directly cause improvement in mental and physical health. Although some of this research is preliminary, we only need to tune into our heart to appreciate the effects of our emotional state on our heart and vice versa. We can use this knowledge to help improve not just our heart health, but also our psycho-emotional wellbeing; switching off stress and instead inviting relaxation and appreciation into our lives.
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