Greetings one and all! I hope you are doing well and loving life. Once again, I invite you to take a deep breath, pour a cup of coffee or hot tea, and relax. As you know, February is designated as American Heart Month. Consequently, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on the importance of heart health. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, it’s important to review the recommendations to reduce the risk of heart disease. Prevention is predicated on knowledge of the disease process and enhanced awareness of the implications of heart disease for the individual, family members, and our society. The heart of the matter is self care—a familiar tune for personal and professional caregivers!
In order to reduce the risk of heart disease and thus be heart healthy, heart specialists encourage a healthy lifestyle—mainly focused on behaviors that affect our physical beings. However, physical health is impacted by emotional, spiritual, and social health as well. Consequently, heart-healthy self care encompasses all aspects of our humanity—physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychosocial well-being. Consider the following suggestions for heart-healthy self care and then generate additional ideas that will reduce your risk of heart disease.
- 1. Physical Health
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do not use tobacco products
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation
- Exercise everyday and commit to a heart-healthy diet
- Control cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar
- 2. Emotional Health
- Learn effective ways to manage stress
- Keep a sense of humor—LOL often!
- Maintain a positive attitude—realistic optimism
- Be curious about life—become a life-long learner
- Recognize that change is the norm—you can’t control everything!
- 3. Spiritual Health
- Reflect on your foundational, sustaining beliefs
- Strive to sense the sacred in life
- Engage in daily spiritual practices—pray, meditate, and/or worship
- Be present to the moment
- Search for the significance of your life—the meaning of life
- 4. Psychosocial Health
- Invest yourself in life-giving relationships
- Surround yourself with supportive, positive people
- Learn how to graciously give and receive care
- Establish and maintain healthy personal and professional boundaries
- Listen well, love deeply, and live boldly
As with all plans of self care, take one step at a time. If you currently engage in heart-healthy self care practices—keep up the good work! However, as I learned last year at my annual physical, there is always room for improvement. So, consider adding one more dimension of self care into your daily regime. As the new addition becomes routine, add another aspect of heart-healthy self care. No doubt, your commitment to self care will pay life-giving dividends, short term and long term. The heart of the matter for personal and professional caregivers becomes a life-sustaining mantra—in order to care for others, we must care for ourselves. So, recite daily and implement faithfully!
I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane
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