Starting a Heart Healthy Routine
Devoting a little time every day to care for yourself can go a long way toward protecting your heart health. Simple self-care, such as taking a moment to de-stress, giving yourself time to move more, preparing healthier meals, and not cheating on sleep can all benefit your heart.
And that’s a good thing, and focusing on improving your heart health has never been more important. Heart disease is a leading cause of death for women and men in the United States, and many Americans remain at risk. However, heart disease is largely preventable and it may be easier than you think to “put your heart” into your daily routine.
Each Sunday, look at your week’s schedule and carve out 30 minutes a day for heart-healthy practices – take an online yoga class, prepare a heart-healthy recipe, schedule your bedtime to get at least seven hours of sleep or make a medication checklist.
Here are a few self-care tips to try every day to make your heart a priority:
Find a moment of serenity every Sunday. Spend some quality time on yourself by doing your favorite hobby, practicing meditation, or taking a moment to relax.
Be mindful about your health and regularly monitor your blood pressure or blood sugar, if needed. Keep an eye on your weight to make sure it stays within or moves toward a healthy range. Being aware of your health status is a key to making positive change.
Choose how you want to approach eating healthier. Start small by pepping up your meals with a fresh herb or spice as a substitute for salt. Get adventurous and prepare a simple heart-healthy recipe, or go big by trying a different way of eating, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure. DASH is flexible and balanced, and it includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, lean meats, beans, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
Don’t waffle on your wellness. Move more, eat a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried, make a plan to quit smoking or vaping, or learn the signs of a heart attack or stroke. You could be having a heart attack if you have chest and upper body pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, or lightheadedness. You might be having a stroke if you have numbness in the face, arm, or leg; confusion; trouble talking or seeing; dizziness; or a severe headache.
Treat Yourself Thursday
Treats can be healthy, and not always about food! Stretch your imagination on treating yourself, whether it’s hosting a family dance party, taking a few minutes to sit still and meditate, going for a long walk, or watching a funny show that makes you laugh. Whatever you do, find a way to spend some quality time on yourself.
Follow inspiring people and pages on social media, or text a friend to help you stick to your self-care goals. Remember to take care of your mental health, too. Two of the main hurdles to self-care are depression and a lack of confidence, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Reach out to family and friends for support, or talk to a qualified mental health provider.
Inspire others to take care of their own hearts. Talk about your self-care routine with loved ones or share a selfie on your social media platforms. Having social support and personal networks can make it easier to get regular physical activity, eat nutritious foods, reach a healthy weight, and quit smoking.
Interested in taking a daily heart health challenge? Join us in February for our 28-day challenge during Heart Month.