To learn about the leading sources of stress, how stress affects your health and how to reduce stress, the Connecticut Health I-Team will host a community forum, “Getting Ahead of Stress: A Primer on Medicine, Mental Health and Mindfulness,’’ from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, 370 Bassett Road in North Haven. The free event is open to the public and you can register here.
Participants will learn innovative ways to reduce stress, including practicing mindfulness, a form of meditation intended to center people in the present.
“Reducing stress is not a drive-by thing; there’s no pill or quick fix,” said Kate Mitcheom, a panelist and certified mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher, yoga teacher and certified nurse midwife. “It really is a practice of learning how to be aware of stress, be aware of how your mind reacts to it and your body reacts to it, and learning how to sort of reboot yourself to come back to the present moment.”
A lot of stress is caused, Mitcheom said, by worrying about what will happen in the future. Practicing mindfulness can help people by focusing them on what they’re experiencing right now, she said.
The medical community is increasingly exploring links between stress and its physical consequences: heart health, cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic illness, poor eating habits, disturbed sleep, among other ailments.
“Stress has been recognized to be a factor for coronary disease and heart disease for a long time,” said Dr. Lisa Freed, clinical cardiologist and director of the Women’s Heart and Vascular Program at Yale New Haven Health and an event panelist.
“When you’re stressed, your hormone levels – like cortisol and adrenaline – go up, and all of that takes a toll on your heart,” she said. “Those are stressor hormones for your heart, and that’s not good. It kind of slowly erodes your cardiac health.”
Other panelists are: Dr. D. Barry Boyd, oncologist at Greenwich Hospital, Yale New Haven Health; Dr. Kathleen Mueller, medical director at the Center for Integrative Medicine at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford; and Dr. James Ocampo, specialist in Internal Medicine, ProHealth Physicians, Somerset Internal Medicine Office in Glastonbury.
Donna Montesi, an APRN and director of clinical and business development at West Haven Medical Group, a division of the Physicians Alliance of Connecticut, will moderate the discussion.
Major sponsors include M7, ProHealth Physicians, Inc. and the Connecticut Hospital Association.
Refreshments will be served starting at 5 p.m. and free parking is available.
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