Community Views: Advice I Would Give Myself
You have probably heard the song lyrics, “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.” Many who live with a chronic health disease wish to go back and enlighten their younger selves.
Wondering what you would say, we turned to the Heart-Failure.net Facebook page. We asked community members to tell us: “Looking back, what is a piece of advice you would give yourself before your heart failure diagnosis?”
In your words, we heard the longing for another chance to do many things differently.
Lower your stress
Stress impacts health. It can raise blood pressure and heart rate. Many of you shared that you would reduce sources of stress in your life. While avoiding all stress is impossible, learning techniques to manage stress can help.1
“Learn to manage stress and anxiety.”
“Stay away from stress.”
“To get away as far as possible from any and all aggravating stress from any source. Daily living stress is enough.”
Listen to your body
Your body is wise. Taking time to listen to the cues it sends is vital. Ignoring those twinges of “something is not right” is detrimental. You shared how you would listen and advocate for yourself earlier.
“Listen to your body, and don’t ignore the warning signs of an impending heart attack.”
“Fainting and tiredness ARE heart failure symptoms.”
“I would have listened to my body and not my doctor, who said nothing was wrong with me and to go home.”
Improve your diet
Diet can affect heart health. Prioritizing healthy eating makes a difference. Choosing lean meats, fruits and veggies, whole grains, and legumes keeps your body well. Moderation of not-so-good foods is key. Learning to make good choices early could alter your diagnosis. Changing your diet was a common response to this prompt!2
“Get the weight off.”
“Eat chicken and fish. Then fish and chicken. Then chicken and fish. No red meat. UGH.”
“Put the salt shaker down.”
Make lifestyle adjustments
Few people enjoy making changes to their lifestyle. We are comfortable with our way of being. We like our vices! “It won’t happen to me” becomes a crutch to avoid confronting hard realities. You shared several changes you would make to protect your heart and health.
“Really believe how important it is to eat healthy and exercise regularly!!”
“Care for yourself while you are young. I’m 85 with problems that might have been prevented by a healthy lifestyle when I was younger.”
“Get insurance so as not to become bankrupt.”
“Use a CPAP.”
"No one wishes they spent more time at the office" is a common saying. Many of you are learning to embrace living life to the fullest. You would tell your younger selves to use the vacation time, slow down, and appreciate what is before you. Savoring life is worth the effort.
“Live every day like it’s your last.”
“Not to be a workaholic.”
“Stop and smell the roses. Don’t work so much overtime through vacations! And above all, learn how to say NO!”
“Live as hard as you can while you can.”
We value your willingness to share so honestly with the community. Thank you to everyone who joined the conversation.
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Do you use exercise to help manage your heart failure?