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We’ve all heard eating healthy and getting enough exercise is good for our heart, but your mental health can impact your heart as well. Research shows that conditions like chronic stress, depression and anxiety can create harmful responses in our body that can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. The good news is there are ways we can improve our mental well-being that in turn will help our heart*.

Stress Less for a Healthier Heart

How stress affects our heart health

Too often in our society stress is considered one of the costs of having an active and productive life. Unfortunately, over time, letting stress affect us too much can lead to serious health problems such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Mental and emotional problems


Here are three questions to ask yourself to gain perspective on your stress:

  1. Am I feeling stressed?

What stresses one person may not stress another. A stressful situation can often be managed by how you look at the situation. One person stuck in a traffic jam might get angry and impatient, whereas another might use the opportunity to listen to music. One person might enjoy a roller-coaster ride, while another person might find that experience to be extremely frightening and stressful.

  1. Do I have control over the situation?

Sometimes you do, like the example about the traffic jam. If you cannot control the situation, can you control your reaction or response to it?

  1. How do I choose to respond?

Ask yourself, “does it really matter”? Is it something that’s going to affect you in the long run? If it isn’t, why worry about it?

We’ll never eliminate stress, but we can prevent long-term health problems by training our body and mind to react positively to whatever life throws at us.


Just breathe

Try this simple breathing technique you can do anywhere, anytime you’re feeling tense. It helps you relax, which in turn helps your heart. Here’s another breathing exercise you can use to reduce anxious feelings and regain calm and balance.

Guided meditation helps lower stress, quiets the mind and creates some head space. If you’re new to the practice of meditation, this video is for you.

Keep moving

Whether it’s a day spent hunched over your computer trying to meet a deadline or ongoing worrying about what is happening in the world, movement is good for us physically and mentally. Exercise releases endorphins which is our body’s feel-good chemical. This helps relieve stress and improve our mood.

These simple boxing moves increase blood flow and release stress in the muscles. The only requirements are flat shoes (or no shoes) and space to stand and extend your arms safely. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.


We’re here to help

  • One valuable tool available at no extra cost to our fully insured Florida Blue and most Florida Blue Medicare members is our digital mental well-being program, meQuilibrium**. This self-guided personalized program improves resiliency skills and helps with mental well-being — something we can all use right now. Watch a Calm-cast video, try a resilience-building skill or complete an activity all designed to help you reduce your stress and improve your health – including your heart health.
  • Florida Blue members eligible for our care programs can reach out to their care manager for additional information on stress management. And now, with the BlueForMe app, they can do it through their smart devices.

Additional resources

  • Lucet offers a resource center where you can find information on stress and mental well-being. You’ll need to create an individual account by completing a simple registration form to gain access to these materials, including assessments and other self-help tools.
  • This American Heart Association article provides good information about how stress can affect our mental health and steps we can take to manage it.


*All decisions that require or pertain to independent professional medical/clinical judgement or training, or the need for medical services, are solely the member’s responsibility and the responsibility of their physicians and other health care providers.

**meQuilibrium is an independent company contracted by Florida Blue to provide health and wellness services and resources to members. This benefit is available to Florida Blue members age 18 and older.  Eligibility is limited to members with an individual or family plan, an individual or family ACA plan and members with coverage from their fully insured group employer health plan.


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