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Lori is a Nurse Practitioner, Board Certified Health Coach & Creation Coach who specializes in getting to the root cause of your symptoms

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Editor’s Note – New Website / Domain name – Due to my recent divorce, my branding will be Lori Finlay. PLEASE keep your eyes out to accept as my new address to receive emails. My new website will be launched in early 2023 after I get situated in my new place.

It’s that time of year-hearts, fun, love, chocolate, roses & romance. But are some of your relationships making your heart sick? 

Research has clearly shown that heart health is greatly impacted by our relationships, especially if we are women!

Women are often juggling multiple balls – raising children, careers, caregiver roles of adult parents, and romantic relationships. If the stress is too much in any of these relationships, i.e., an unhappy marriage or going through a divorce, then the prolonged release of our stress hormone cortisol can wreak havoc on our health. In fact, we now know that high cortisol, as seen on the Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR), is one of THE major contributors to damaging the endothelium (lining of the vessels from head to toe). Certainly, I know you have heard before that stress is linked to heart disease right, but now there’s clear science to show the actual disease progression or “pathophysiology.”  

Next week I will address more specifics on the “Miss-perceptions” of Women and Heart disease, but for now, I want to reinforce that heart disease is STILL the number one killer of Women. And the onset of disease, even death, is hitting women at MUCH younger ages. In part, because of increased stress, on all levels, significant hormonal imbalances, and the rising levels of obesity and diabetes that follow.

Now, back to relationship stressors. Women perceive greater psychological stress than men, according to Dr. Erin Michos, a John Hopkins cardiologist. She also cites a 2015 study that revealed divorce as a significant risk factor for heart attacks, especially in women.

Scientists are finally addressing what we’ve known for years; there is a mind-body connection with heart health, too!  Nieca Goldberg, a renowned cardiologist from NYC and now medical director of the American Heart Associate says that “the burden of marital stress” directly impacts women’s physical health outcomes.

Good Genes are nice, but Joy is better!

If you have been following my work, you know that I am passionate about DNA testing too. Understanding your own genomic blueprint can be quite empowering to create your ideal level of vitality. And following the heart-healthy tips outlined in my previous blog posts are very important to ensure heart health.

However, Dr. Robert Waldinger, from Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, presenter of a TED talk on the 80-year Harvard Study of Adult Development, said that “the people who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50, were the healthiest at age 80”.

Here’s one more amazing finding from this 80-year follow-up lifestyle study, Psychiatrist Dr. George Vaillant, who was part of this huge study from 1966-2004, said, “when the study began, nobody cared about empathy or attachment, but the key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships!

Will you be my Valentine?

Clearly, after barely coming through a painful, surprising divorce, this research matters to me. Yet, I’m also focusing on many ways to impact my heart health as I continue my healing journey.

Regardless of the fact that I am not in a romantic relationship right now, I have chosen to Spark Joy with other relationships. Here are some ideas for you, too

  • Do you have little kids in your life? If so, shower them with valentines?
  • How about grabbing a few people to help you do a “heart attack” on someone’s front door? Perhaps there’s a widow or lonely person that really needs to be showered with love, too.
  • Surprise people who serve you and let them know that you love and appreciate their great service.
  • Try Meetup groups – In my community, a local business is hosting a “Galentines” Kayaking event for just the gals. Perhaps YOU can spearhead an event for fun.
  • Create events that you can do to celebrate relationships and joy on a regular basis – it may be a yoga group, outdoor activities, the movies, art event, music.
  • Join a church or business group to create a 2nd family.
  • Get creative!

Treat Yourself with Love!

  • You can give yourself flowers, as Miley Cyrus sings.
  • Buy yourself some chocolate. Personally, I recommend Lilly’s and ChocZero because they do NOT have sugar.
  • Schedule a massage.
  • Enjoy a luxurious bath, candles, and a good book.
  • Or whatever self-love treat will support your health.

Set your Man up to WIN!

I studied with Alison Armstrong, founder of the Understand Man company for 20 years, and learned early on that men hate Valentine’s Day because they have to produce romance on demand!! So, here are some tips if you want to create a great experience for both of you.

  • Share with your man what your heart’s desire might be. What would set him up to win? Maybe you’d love tulips instead of roses. Or perhaps you’re a gal that would love a gift certificate to the nursery to buy plants that would bloom all year. Let him know so he can WIN!
  • For some couples, it works for the woman to create the surprises. Starting a new romance ritual can freshen things up.
  • Celebrate on a different day to avoid the crazy rush, booked restaurants, etc.

Heart Smart Ways to Approach Relationship Stress

If you are experiencing relationship stress, here are a few tips to help

  • Check your coping strategies – managing stress with alcohol, smoking, binge eating, and lots of sugar will make matters MUCH worse. Instead, try meditation, deep breathing, and other tips that I shared in this blog post on the Serenity Prayer
  • Find ways to reduce your stress in the short term and long term. Take up a new hobby. Get out and exercise, or at least get out and enjoy a brisk walk, fresh air, and sunshine.
  • Take time for Self-care – While I was going through my divorce, I made sure that EVERY day, I had a lot of margin at the beginning and end of each day, so I could practice self-care rituals.
  • Nurture your other loving relationships– when dealing with relationship stress, be sure you have a supportive friend, family member, or team to talk with and bless you with a listening ear, empathy, and even coping tools
  • Do your healing work – whether you choose talk therapy (CBT), EMDR, brain spotting, essential oils, and/ or intuitive healers, create a team to support you in navigating the stress.
  • Share your stress with your healthcare provider. Often, they can recommend stress-busting skills to support you. And, they will keep this stress as a vital piece of information about your health if you do become symptomatic

As Valentine’s week/weekend approaches, regardless of what your romantic relationship status is, celebrate ALL the loving relationships in your life. Because as the research shows, longevity is rewarded by healthy loving relationships.

This Free Quiz was created to help you gain clarity about some of your most aggravating symptoms and to help you get on your healthy hormone path.

FREE Hormone Symptom Quiz!