This Friday is Valentine’s Day, so when else to talk about your heart and make sure you’re taking care of your most important organ? Here are six tips for taking care of your heart. Take them as a reminder, as motivation, or as a checklist:
1) Get enough sleep. While you sleep, your brain refreshes and recharges. But your heart also needs rest. Here’s another tip: stop eating two hours before bed, and just say no to midnight snacks. If you’re digesting while you’re sleeping, your heart is working harder than it needs to.
2) Exercise, of course! Your heart is a muscle, and it needs to be strengthened through use. And here’s something else: keep the vigorous exercise down to every other day, and just do something light (like go for a walk) on the off days. Off days allow your body to rest and process the work you’re doing.
3) De-stress (and feel the love). Yeah, stress is bad for you—free radicals cause inflammation, enough of which could cause some serious problems. But you know what else? There’s some evidence you may have a few neurotransmitters around your heart—so you literally can suffer heartache from that bad breakup.
4) Eat well! Antioxidant rich berries, lean meats, healthy fats like avocados—these are all great heart healthy foods. But did you know calcium can also help support your cardiovascular health? People who get more calcium have lower blood pressure. And, of course, calcium has numerous other benefits!
5) Breathe. Deeply. Evenly. You’d be surprised how many people are bad at breathing—too fast, too shallow, or they try and slow down, think about their breath, meditate—and they hyperventilate! Make sure this isn’t you: take a 1 minute break every now and then (you can tie it to bathroom trips, water breaks, or the clock) to take breathes you can feel deep in your belly, to slow down, to make sure you aren’t constantly holding your breath and thinking about your stressors!
6) Love. It sounds sappy, and it probably should be a sub-point to de-stressing, but it’s important. Conversation lifts your spirits (in a biologically noticeable way, according to science), having a fluffy pet lowers your blood pressure and raises your life expectancy, and having a good spouse can do the same. There are lots of ways to do it, but the feel good hormones will work any which way.
What are your V-Day plans?