February is American Heart Month. Valentine’s Day comes to mind when we share love with those closest to us. What about a little love for ourselves, beginning with our heart. When we practice self-care, those around us benefit too. Improved heart health isn’t only about eating the right things, since there are other strategies that may contribute to or support a healthier heart.
Fruits and vegetables are nutrition power houses. Take one small step by adding a serving of each to all three meals. Choose fish and poultry in place of red meat. Use olive oil whenever possible instead of butter. Try adding a plant-based meal using vegetables and beans. Enjoy a handful of nuts every day. Focus on consuming less processed foods and added sugars. Finally, enjoy desserts and treats in moderation.
Stopping smoking may be the single most important thing you can do to protect your heart health. It won’t be easy, but you’ll feel much better. Find a buddy for support or join a group. No matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting can still have a positive impact.
Life happens and stress is often unavoidable. Do you have methods for managing it? Spend time with your pets or go outside and enjoy nature. Choose a hobby that distracts you from the daily pressures. Practicing gratitude reminds us of the positives in our life and may increase our joy. Stop for a minute to breathe, stretch or meditate. Most importantly capture the opportunity to laugh, it is “the best medicine.”
Sometimes exercise is like golf, you either love it or hate it. Don’t try to climb the mountain in one day. Start in small increments. Park farther away from work, the grocery store, etc. Enjoy outdoor games with your children. Walk the dog or take the steps instead of the elevator. Make it fun so it won’t feel like exercise. If you prefer more structure, join a gym. Just start moving!!
Give your heart some love this month by taking at least one of these steps in the right direction. Happy Valentine’s Day!!!