“You have to take care of your heart, and you have to start doing it now, or it’s going to be too late.” ~ Barbara Allen
How do you take care of your heart? What did you do today to keep your heart healthy both emotionally and physically?
I don’t mean to sound too serious (though I really should) but heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease. Arteries get blocked by “plaque” and your coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked. Then your heart cannot get enough oxygen rich blood. This blockage can result in chest pain, called angina. You can also have pain occuring in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.
What causes this plaque build up in my arteries? Sometimes it starts in childhood believe it or not. Damage can occur to the inner layers of the coronary arteries when you smoke, consume certain types of fats, excessive bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood, have high blood pressure, or high amounts of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes. When this damage occurs your body begins to try to heal the damage. The body does this by having the fatty tissue in the body release compounds that promote this healing. It is this healing where the damage has occurred in the arteries that cause the plaque to build up.
I don’t know about you about you but I definitely do not want to have all that nasty stuff build up in my arteries!
The emotional heart can also become diseased or damaged. Like your physical body your inner heart (or soul) can also suffer damage and build up plaque. The effects are similar. The damage sometimes occurs with healing and emotional scars may develop. When there is a “build up” of plaque in your heart – love, kindness, understanding, compassion, creativity, beauty, happiness, and joy can be suppressed or obstructed. Again, this damage can begin in childhood and there may be other contributing factors that exacerbate (big word – means to complicate things) the problem (s).
What causes the build up in your heart? There can be many factors, broken promises, broken hearts, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, hanging onto grudges and hatred, being unkind and unforgiving, being ungrateful … the list goes on and on. It can be anything that may stop or block the circulation of love that flows out from your heart and back in.
So what can you do to gain balance and take care of your heart in every way?
Eat a healthy diet. Physically this applies to eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. High fiber foods which help prevent high cholesterol, and lower salt in your diet which can lower your blood pressure. Emotionally this applies to being protective and specific with what you put into your heart – garbage in, garbage out versus goodness in, goodness out. Don’t traffic in negativity or pessimism on a regular basis. Instead infuse a steady diet of positive, affirming, loving thoughts about yourself and see the positives in others.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The recommendation for most healthy adults is to engage in moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week. Emotionally exercise your compassion, kindness, and love towards others and the world around you with gratitude every day. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping others. Try exercising your kindness or compassion to others once a day. (Also physical exercise will increase your sense of well being, and elevate your mood. So physical exercise is kind of a “two-for” the price of one! )
Conquer your bad habits. Physically smoking does increase your risk for heart disease. If you do smoke try to quit, if you have never smoked, don’t. Alcohol in excess can cause high blood pressure and weight gain. However, red wine (in moderation) has been proven to increase “good” cholesterol and protect against artery damage (it is recommended that women do not drink more than 1 glass (8 oz) of red wine a day, and men should not exceed 2 glasses.) Emotionally develop positive habits. Don’t listen to negative self-talk and instead replace those thoughts with positive affirmations. In our inner dialogue of the mind some of us have habits of being pessimistic or negative in every circumstance. Try to see the positive in situations as they arise, make it a scavenger hunt of sorts. Stop worrying – it is nonproductive, catch yourself worrying and unless you can name and proceed with positive steps to alleviate the worry,
STOP IT! Does worrying about the future or living in the past ever really do anyone any good? You cannot change the past, so forgive yourself. You cannot see the future so concentrate on being here, present and grateful for NOW.
Cyndi Rose is a computer “Geek” chick by trade but she loves to write. The well written phrase is able to impart ideas, knowledge, and connection with others. She is grateful for the opportunity to express her personal growth in words which may, hopefully, benefit others at the same time. She shares her insights and ideas on her blog Working It Out .