During the unimaginable circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, doctors and healthcare workers came up with an unconventional method in their treatment -- they danced for their patients and sang songs with them. When nothing else seemed to work, we knew the least and the most we could do was to be happy.
Still, as the pandemic seems to slowly drift away, work-related stress and anxiety stay afloat, overpowering our mental peace.
Dr Rakesh Sood, Senior Consultant, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi, explained that people have unrealistic expectations from life and set impractical targets to achieve them. Thus, as we chase after our goals and dreams to feel happier, instead, we often end up digging a hole for ourselves.
"Labourers don't suffer from heart attacks. It is usually executives or managers who get a heart attack. Those who are happy, have a regulated lifestyle and enjoy time with their family, their incidence of heart attack is less. Incidence of heart attacks is high in only those who have stressful jobs or Type A personalities," Dr Sood told ANI.
According to Prannya Arora, who is a final year student at Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, stress caused mostly by demanding jobs leads to a series of unhealthy lifestyle practices which sooner or later affects our cardiovascular health.
"It is a drop by drop phenomenon, we do a lot of deteriorating things to our body. All of us are running for our jobs and are stressed in some way or another. This deteriorates our health. But lifestyle change will sort out fifty per cent of our problems," Arora said.
The lifestyle changes one can incorporate to keep their hearts happier and healthier are easy to do, fulfilling in nature and surprisingly commonsensical. Activities like walking, meditating, yoga, listening to soothing music, watching light-hearted movies, spending time with friends and family, are mostly recommended by doctors to keep stress and anxiety at bay.
Despite these easy to follow tips, people are unable to incorporate them into their daily routine.
"Because we are too ambitious. We want a high paced life. From day one of starting a business or joining any job, we want to become Tata-Birla. We want to switch from a scooter to BMW or any other luxury car. We have unrealistic targets for ourselves along with added family pressure. Uski kameez meri kameez se safed kyu hai. Why is the other person happier than me? Why does he have more than me? Vo mere se ameer kyu hai," Dr Sood explained.
Moreover, the act of taking stress and its incidental diseases, often begin from early childhood.
"Nowadays, even a little child is stressed. Parents have become so competitive and burden their children to ace in every field. Even children at the kindergarten level are going to tuition, I've seen. So the stress begins from childhood itself. In the current scenario, screen time is increasing and the child is sitting all the time and eating, and so obesity, a very important factor for heart diseases, starts from childhood," Arora shared.
Given how stressful we have become along with other unhealthy lifestyle practices, if we want to protect our hearts, there is no alternative for lifestyle modification.
"If you have surgery or angioplasty, it does not mean you cannot have the disease again. There are studies that have shown lifestyle modification, meditation and keeping oneself happy has even caused regression of blockages. So If you are always stressed, even surgery or angioplasty will not help you. You have to incorporate ways in your life to keep yourself happy -- either watching movies, going out with family, going on holidays, regular meditation, walking and spending quality time with friends and family without smoking and drinking," Dr Sood said.
However, since much of our time and stress revolves around work, it is also essential to destress while we are at work.
"Have a friend circle group at work to chat with. Go for coffee breaks and lunch breaks. Have provision to watch light movies and programmes at work. Form a group of like-minded people and try to have a good time with them, and avoid talking about work during these breaks," Dr Sood suggested.
"Most important is your thought process, positivity, and meditation," he summed up.
Also, one should be "mindful of the fact that we have a heart, which is prone to a lot of disorders."
"Our heart is working now but one day it might give up while we are busy running in the rat race. Start working for your heart now, no matter what stage of life you are at," Arora emphasised.
So, this World Heart Day, let's have a heart-to-heart conversation with ourselves and rethink if our current lifestyle choices are making our lives any happier or are hearts any healthier.