Relax your way to a healthy heart

Heart-healthy relaxation exercises you can do anywhere
Sep 5, 2018 ·
Woman relaxing doing yoga in kayak on peaceful lake

Most people think exercise is the key to a strong, healthy heart. And that’s true – but relaxation is an important part of heart health, too. Studies show that people with heart disease who use relaxation techniques to reduce stress and anxiety improve their heart rate considerably. 


Whether you practice mindful meditation or simply want to be more aware and in touch with your body and mind, mindfulness has many benefits.

  • Mindful meditation – This form of meditation is proven to ease anxiety, depression, and pain. You can try it at home or when you’re out, for instance, on a park bench or in a waiting room chair. Sit comfortably and focus on your breathing. Keep your mind on the present, and try not to let any thoughts about the past or future creep in.
  • Controlled breathing – It sounds so simple, but purposeful breathing is good for both your body and mind. It can lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. Abdominal breathing can help reduce muscle tension and is one of the quickest ways to bring relaxation to your body and mind.

Health can be a walk in the park

If your heart is fit enough for exercise, walking is the easiest way to improve your heart health. Walking has both physical and mental benefits, and it requires nothing more than some comfortable shoes or sneakers. In fact, psychologists studying exercise’s effect on anxiety and depression have found that a 10-minute walk may actually be just as good for your mental health as a 45-minute workout. 

Listen up for your health

Silence is golden, but music may be even more valuable. Most people enjoy listening to music but may not know that its effect can be like medicine for the mind. Music can be a stress-buster and a mood-booster and can actually improve your immune system by reducing stress hormones.


Technology offers us so many conveniences, but it also can cause a lot of stress and become a distraction from the things you really want to do. Text messages, emails, and social media can be time-consuming and overwhelming, especially when you feel pressured to respond to everything that comes your way. 

Set aside a few hours each day to break free from technology and unwind. You may even want to have one screen-free day every week. This off-duty time can do wonders to help you relax and enjoy some good old-fashioned face-to-face time with family and friends.

Talk to yourself

When things get stressful, do you start to panic? With a little practice, you can learn to talk yourself into a calmer state. For instance, instead of saying to yourself, “I can’t deal with this,” try telling yourself, “I’ll do the best I can.”  Here are some other negative statements that may be familiar to you, as well as the things you can say to change your outlook:
  • Instead of saying, “I feel overwhelmed and alone,” try saying, “If I need to, I can always find someone to help me.”
  • Instead of saying, “Everything is going wrong all at once,” try saying, “I will try to fix things one step at a time.”
  • Instead of saying, “I’m worried that nothing will work out,” try saying, “I’ve dealt with stress before and everything will be okay.” 
The mind-body connection is a powerful one. A peaceful state of mind is essential for a healthy heart, so don’t forget to relax and make reducing stress a top priority. 
To help you make meaningful, manageable changes to your lifestyle, Blue Shield offers a suite of total health programs called Wellvolution®, which you can join at no additional cost. These programs offer lifestyle-based approaches to health. For example, the Walkadoo® program can keep your body moving, the Diabetes Prevention Program can help you lose weight, and QuitNet® can help you quit smoking. 

You can also take advantage of the many discounts our plans offer – on fitness equipment, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, vitamins, and supplements.

Feeling stressed out?

Find healthy ways to deal with anxiety and worry, then learn smart strategies for coping in the future

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