4 Ways to Love Your Heart More
By Sarah Hodge on February 01, 2012
We’ve all heard it before, ‘Don’t forget about you. Find time for the little things. Love begins from within.’ So much of it is true. I know I’m not the only one who peruses the aisles of self-help books. Well in honor of February as American Heart Month, here are 5 tips that help keep your heart healthy as well as yourself.
Stay in Bed
There’s so much time in a day and although you’re trying to be Super Woman trying to fit it all into a crazy schedule – something is always left out. Namely, sleep. I know, I know, you’re already thinking – I can’t do that. I’ve got the kids’ schedule, work, the Pilates class I teach four times a week, bible study and that old saying – live today because tomorrow is not promised. Yet with all the stress that accumulates within even one 24hr period, you have to ask yourself, is it all worth it?
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had to really buckle down and answer this question. It was really doing a number on my body – physically and mentally. I was worried that if I didn’t find a solution to balance it all I would literally not wake up one morning. In fact, did you know that the most heart attacks occur in the early morning? Adults need at least 7 or more hours of sleep but we don’t get it because we’re constantly prioritizing other activities over our health.
According to Dr. Michael Breus, sleeping less than 6 hours can increase your risk of heart disease by 48%! With heart disease being the number one killer of both men and women, I think we could all use a little more sleep to get us through the day.
Ask the Questions
First, if you’re not seeing your doctor on a regular basis, do so! Inconvenience or lack of time isn’t an excuse. I always say think to myself, “Its always better to act than to react in a bad situation.” Your doctor is your key to making sure you don’t have to react when your health takes a turn for the worse.
If you have a history of heart disease in your family, make it a point to schedule a visit with a cardiologist. Your general practitioner should have some good references for you if you’re not sure where to start. Most people won’t encounter a cardiologist until a health issue has already surfaced but a lot of their work is focused on preventative care like stress testing.
When it comes to your heart, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Like why do cardiologists do angiograms or how do you measure the health of my heart? If you understand the measures cardiologists take to assess your health, you can start developing new habits to make sure more extensive testing won’t be necessary.
Eat This, Not That
You are what you eat. You probably saw that coming but it’s true! If you’ve been around babies, you know this to be true. Every bite is tipping the scale either in or out of your favor. Eating right is tricky though when new temptations are around every corner. I have a huge sweet tooth and it can get me in trouble. To motivate myself, I think about moderation. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying you favorite food, overeating is the problem.
No two bodies are the same so what will work for your best girlfriend won’t necessarily be your saving grace. Seek out the advice of a nutritionist who can help you map a plan of what to eat more or less of. Whether it’s red wine, olive oil or more Cheerios, a part of keeping your heart healthy is what you’re fueling your body with.
Love a Little More
If you’re like me, the people in your life mean a lot to you. They’re a source of strength, comfort and become a part of you in a sense. Imagining life without my loved ones is painful and truthfully unbearable. My chest begins to throb just at the thought of it. Well that pained feeling might actually have a name – heartbreak. You read correctly, the American Psychiatric Association is debating on whether to add it as an official condition. Now the name might go through some tweaking but the foundation will be the same
The passing of a loved one, deep depression or the ending of a relationship can all set off what we know as heartbreak. The affect depends on the person but if you’ve gone through it or witnessed it in someone else, you know the impact it can have on daily activities.
If you don’t want to sit around and wait for time to heal your wounds, take the advice of Dr. Stephen Sinatra.
- Reconnect with an old friend or family member.
- Reserve some time to invest in you. Read, sing, knit, cry, laugh etc. just escape to your own world.
- Accept you, flaws and all.
- Find your spiritual side. Religion can have deep healing effects in helping people recover from tragedy.
*Some of my personal tips*
- Pursue a hobby. Remember that thing you always wanted to do? There’s no time like the present!
- Make a new friend. Nowadays there are communities for just about anything and everything.
- Meetup.com is great for searching for likeminded people.
- Try something new (my personal favorite). There’s so much to explore! Voids aren’t meant to stay empty forever.
By no means am I an expert but after watching family members worry about their health, I knew I couldn’t ignore it. Talk with your doctor and start paying attention to your heart. It speaks louder than you think.
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