February is the month of the HEART. Not only do we celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th but in 1963 Congress requested that the entire month be proclaimed “American Heart Month.” Why is an entire month dedicated to encouraging us to incorporate heart disease prevention habits into our daily lives? According to the CDC, one person dies every 36 seconds in the US from cardiovascular disease. Broken down further, one in every four deaths are attributed to heart disease in our country. Those numbers speak volumes!
What HEALTHY HABITS can you carry out to FIGHT this disease?
Be tobacco FREE
Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of DAILY ACTIVITY – remember you can split that time into
Eat a heart healthy diet – focus on a PLANT RICH diet high in FIBER…think rainbow!
Maintain a healthy WEIGHT
Get a good quality night’s SLEEP
Manage STRESS *more about this in the following
Know more about your current state of health through a good health screening and lab work
Let’s focus on the stress part. The link between STRESS and heart disease has been well documented. Stress is a part of everyday life. And in fact, some types of stress are even good for us! For example, exercise that increases your heart rate improves our physical as well as mental well-being. Your body’s response to stress is supposed to protect you. But, if it’s constant, it can harm you….
Cortisol, a hormone our body produces, is released in response to stress. Long-term stress from high levels of cortisol can increase cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. This stress can also cause changes that promote the buildup of plaque deposits in the arteries. When cortisol levels are extremely high it can even affect the way in which blood clots. It can make the blood stickier and increases the risk of stroke.
Let’s SLAY that stress dragon! Again, we know some stress is good for us. But when we are feeling overwhelmed and “stressed out” what are some things we can do to get it under control? Many of have addressed many of the solutions through our longevity series. Some additional suggestions include creating a supportive group of people to surround you. Include positive, caring people that will hear you out and help you navigate your way through this thing called life. Looking into counseling can also be a helpful tool to relieve stress and anxiety. Counseling is not just for times of crisis, it can be very proactive. Set realistic goals and expectations. Often, many of us expect too much of ourselves. Treat yourself with the same grace you would a dear friend. Manage social media. This can be a real trap for some of us. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts while on social media or comparing yourself to others, let it go. Detox from social media by taking a break. Assert yourself – it’s okay to say, “No.” Lastly, sell yourself to yourself. Remind yourself what you are good at, what you’ve accomplished, what you are grateful for. The list is likely long. You are the MVP of your life!
Let the rest of February be a happy and healthy heart month…….your heart deserves it!