"To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to." ~Kahlil Gibran
Don’t Take It to Heart
Heart Disease remains the #1 killer for women. Medical researchers don’t know exactly how, but stress has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. It could be that stress itself is a risk factor or that it makes other risk factors like high blood pressure worse. In any case, “Science is beginning to support the theory that chronic emotional stress can promote coronary artery disease,” according to Richard N. Fogoros, MD, in his article, “Does Stress Really Cause Heart Disease?”
However, positive emotions, like optimism and happiness improve the quality of life and lessen the chances of heart attacks, according to a recent study at India’s Panjab University. So how do we get there?
We transform one step at a time. If you follow Prochaska’s Model of Change, we move from denial to ready, set, go and maintenance, when making changes in our lives. For instance, I began to feel dissatisfied in my career five years before I actually made the change of going into business for myself. It took much thought and soul searching, more education and planning, as well as a tough emotional journey. But each step built upon another until the day came that I was ready to move.
Not everyone needs to make as drastic a change, but we can take small steps that lead to larger lifestyle changes. If we find we are having sleepless nights, headaches, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, compulsive behaviors, critical thoughts, increased use of alcohol or caffeine, poor memory or withdrawal from social relationships, we are experiencing the danger signs of stress.
It is time to start eating whole fresh foods to help us get the nutrients our bodies need to cope better. A healthy breakfast of oatmeal and fresh or frozen organic fruit or a poached egg on whole grain or sprouted bread is a great start. Most of us don’t get the nutrients from foods that our ancestors did due to overfarming the land. A high quality antioxidant and mineral supplement helps to fortify and regenerate our cells.
Adding in some exercise can be as easy as running up and down stairs a couple of times a day in the winter months. Restoring ourselves in a joyful way, whether through yoga, deep breathing, meditation, or a walk through natural surroundings gives us the “ahhh” feeling we need to reconnect with our spirit. Frank Lipman, in his new book, Spent, referred to nature walks as one of the most harmonizing things people can do to reset our nervous and immune systems.
Sleep, a primary form of nourishment, is so underrated in our society. Adults really do need seven or eight hours of sleep per night. When we don’t get our sleep, we struggle through our day. As Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” If you are having trouble sleeping, try five deep breaths as you settle in for the night.
Many adult evening classes offer a variety of fun and interesting lessons that can spark renewed enthusiasm in us. We begin to realize that we deserve to be treated well. We know best what that means for us, so indulge in a few small, feel-good activities every day. For instance, we should stop working every two hours and take a quick break. It clears the mind and we are better able to focus. Maybe we get up and walk around the office or get a drink of water. A brief meditation bolsters us immensely.
All these methods of taking better care of ourselves must be accompanied by a shift in attitude, if we are really going to benefit. We need to go from the hassled, strained characters we see every day in the grocery stores and on the job to people who love our lives. We can set the outlook for our day with a gratitude journal (studies indicate that once per week is most effective). Dreaming about or “visioning” the future we want is also important for a happy life. We see ourselves coming into the life we want and draw it to us. Old habits may be hard to change, but gently, step by step, remembering to care for ourselves and then sharing a smile, giving a foot rub or passing on a kind word can work wonders. Make it happen for the sheer joy of it! You’ll feel better, too.
For information on scheduled speaking engagements, see my events page.
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It’s such a pleasure to help those closest to us become happier and healthier. Please forward this newsletter to friends, family members or colleagues who might be interested and inspired by it.
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