Women who practice self-compassion have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, irrespective of their blood pressure, insulin resistance and cholesterol levels, according to new research.
The US study of 200 women aged between 45 and 67 by the University of Pittsburgh found that those who scored higher on the self-compassion scale had thinner carotid artery walls and less plaque buildup — conditions linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes).
The results persisted, regardless of other common lifestyle psychological factors associated with heart disease such as smoking, depressive symptoms and minimal exercise.
“These findings underscore the importance of practicing kindness and compassion, particularly towards yourself,” said Rebecca Thurston, professor of psychiatry, clinical and translational science, epidemiology, and psychology at Pittsburgh University.
“We are all living through extraordinarily stressful times, and our research suggests that self-compassion is essential for both our mental and physical health,” she added.
Another study shows self-affirmations are also conducive to better mental health and less self judgement.
SA integrative health coach, Laura Johnston, said the pandemic had amplified stress for women in particular, highlighting the importance of more considered self-care, including diet, supplements and quality alone time.
“Self-care is learning to prioritise your physical and mental health. Feed yourself nutritious and healthy food and select high quality supplements such as Felix, with saffron, which helps support cravings and enhances mood, sleep and cognitive health and Purest Omega 3 which delivers a potent dose of healthy EPA and DHA fatty acids to promote brain and heart health.
“In addition, get enough restorative sleep every day, adopt healthier habits to manage stress such as practicing mindfulness meditation, yoga and self-affirmations, and take time out each day to participate in enjoyable healthy activities,” added Johnston.
- A study shows that self-compassion helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Please tell us about this.
A US study of 200 women aged 45-65 showed that those practicing self-compassion had thinner carotid artery walls and less plaque build-up – resulting in a decreased risk of heart attacks and stroke. This is a beautiful example of how self-compassion can alleviate stress and in turn decrease, blood pressure, cortisol and blood sugar levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What does it mean to practice self-compassion, please give us some examples?
Practicing self-compassion means to look inwards and be kind to yourself. It is important to recognize that your mental and physiological health are connected and that you need to focus on both for overall health. Some examples are: talking calming walks in nature, practicing yoga/ mediation, or just playing- play is a very underrated form of stress relief and self-compassion.
How do we incorporate nutrition and supplementation into self-compassion and what do you recommend?
Nutrition and supplementation are as vital to your health as self-compassion is. Like I mentioned, mental and physical health go hand in hand. Following a diet low in sugar, high in fibre, moderate in healthy fats and with a high nutrient content may help stabilize your energy levels, avoid mood-depleting crashes and in turn balance stress levels.
With regards to supplementation, one must understand that this is an adjunct to diet. Much of the soil has been depleted and it isn’t always possible to get sufficient amounts of high quality bioavailable nutrients from food.
Supplements like high quality, purest omega 3 is important for the heart and brain, saffron (felix) is a great supplement for enhancing mood and managing stress eating and B vitamins are essential for maintaining good health and well-being (energy, cell function, brain function and metabolism). Liposomal Biomax Vitamin B for superior bioavailability and absorption.
What other lifestyle tips do you recommend?
Other recommended lifestyle tips are anything that is healthy that makes you happy. Personally, I love spending time in nature- it helps me disconnect with the “always-on” world and take note of the beauty around us. I love saunas – the sensation of sweating is great for my mind and body – renewal process. I also love a good thai massage – touch can be an incredibly powerful healer.
What about self-affirmations — how can they help improve mental health?
They can be incredibly important. So many people are quite nasty to themselves. The mantra should be – speak to yourself as you would to others. It is unlikely you would repeatedly speak negatively to someone so why do it to yourself? Be kind, be gentle, respect yourself and remind yourself that you are worthy and powerful. We need to do this more than every before.
Where can we find out more about general health and wellness?
The internet boasts a wealth of knowledge, as do social platforms. For specific information, look for reputable health companies with expert opinions that are shared on their platforms.
Alternatively, independent health store owners are very knowledgeable as are functional doctors.