February is National Heart Awareness month. Heart disease is just one heart condition but it is statistically the UK’s biggest killer and is responsible for the deaths of about 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet, taking regular exercise and choosing positive lifestyle steps to reduce risk factors, such as high blood pressure are just a few important factors. However, heart disease is complex. Whilst stress is not a direct risk factor it is possible that overtime the effects of continuing stress can impact on our blood pressure and heart, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Learning to manage stress by employing relaxation techniques is becoming increasingly recognised as an effective way of promoting better overall health and wellbeing. Reflexology is just one such technique. Scientific studies show that the relaxation effects of this therapy may be beneficial to heart health by reducing both blood pressure and the hormone cortisol which is produced by the body at times of stress. Elevated cortisol levels are linked to arterial constriction and therefore controlling this stress hormone is key to reducing the risk of heart disease.