Would your friends describe you as an Energizer Bunny? Someone who is always Go!-Go!-Go! in both your personal and professional life? Hmm, then we need to talk about smart heart health so we can keep you around well past your 50s and 60s to enjoy all you want to see and do in life.
February is Heart Health Month across the United States, however, regardless of the month it is important to always pay attention to your heart. Before the age of 50 you may not have given heart health much thought as you go about your day. Once you begin to add more decades to your age, you may notice your body does not always respond in the same way and your energy levels may have shifted. We spend many of our earlier years climbing the mountain of success and for many of us, once we hit our 40s and 50s, we think of our health as being on the downward slope. However, awareness around these shifts in energy levels just means that we may need to be more assertive in our own self-care and implement measures in our health and wellness regimen that allow us to remain strong, healthy and of course, wiser.
Heart Health Fact: In 2003, for the first time, women superseded men in heart disease.
Preparing for a Stronger Heart
Thump. Thump. Thump. The sound and rhythm of a strong, healthy heart is steady and consistent. But what if your heartbeat begins to feel more erratic, not as even. You may notice a feeling of dizziness, shortness of breath or a very fast heartbeat or even a very slow heartbeat. This is not the time to hesitate. This is the time to act as it may be an indication of an irregular heartbeat that needs to be more carefully scrutinized.
As we age, many of us continue to live demanding and fast-paced lives. Remember, 50 is the new 30! If you are of the sandwich generation where you still have children at home and are also caring for aging parents, this can really add up to a very demanding schedule which often times leaves us depleted. Women, as a rule, have been left behind when it comes to heart health and the truth is, heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women. When your fast-paced lifestyle starts to negatively impact your health, maybe it’s time to hit the Pause button, and reset your priorities.
How To Hit Pause
You may think you don’t have the ability or choice to pause but you do, so let’s look at ways to accomplish this.
- Get outdoors more and take up walking. Walking is one of the best modes of exercise where anyone of any age can benefit. It increases oxygen to the heart muscle, making it stronger. It’s also a great way to clear your mind. Think of it as a walking meditation.
- Just breathe. This sounds so simple because you breathe every second without thinking about it but when you’re feeling stressed you often hold your breath. Focused breathing, even for a minute or two can release tension, lower blood pressure, increase blood circulation and help us to refocus and relax.
- Review your schedule. Can you share some of the burden of family care? Scheduling YOU time is just as important as scheduling all of the other activities that we do without thinking. Put YOU time on your calendar every day. If this seems overwhelming at first, start with 15 minutes of quiet time, then add another 15 minutes until you reach a good hour of YOU time!
- Pay attention to healthy food options. Be mindful of eating as nutritiously as possible for each meal and follow this consistently, but don’t beat yourself up when that piece of chocolate cake is calling. Enjoy a treat now and then.
- Get your sleep. If you can’t remember when you last slept through the night for a full 8 hours, it’s time to make some changes. Be consistent with getting to bed at the same time each night, make sure all lights are out and no computers or tv’s are on in your sleeping area.
- Slow down and relax. By choosing meditation, yoga, prayer, or getting a massage you are slowing down and relaxing. This gives your body time to regroup and rebuild after a hectic week.
- Stay hydrated. Hydration is key for your body and the number one cause of headaches is dehydration. Drinking water is great and don’t forget you can also stay hydrated by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
For more on this topic listen in on the full podcast episode with my guest Linda Penkala, LMT and author of The Pause to Relax Ladies, for Robust Heart Health: A Guidebook for Smart Heart Choices for Life, where we have a candid conversation around women’s heart health.
Jennifer L. Crisp, RN, is the founder of A Bridge To Wholeness. Jennifer believes strongly in both traditional western medicine and contemporary health practices as she understands the importance of client-centered care beyond conventional medicine. A Bridge to Wholeness invites traditional and alternative practitioners to get connected (bridging the gap) so your client/patient can experience enhanced benefits and care from these connections. Prior to launching this organization, she worked in a community hospital as a cardiac nurse and has been an entrepreneur since 2011. To take the Intersection of Wellness quiz and get a free report of your results visit her website www.abridgetowholeness.com.