Learning to Slow Down
Last updated: September 2023
Receiving a diagnosis of heart failure is never easy. It evokes big feelings and gives many of us a serious reality check.
Whether you saw the diagnosis coming, or not, it certainly comes with some adjustments in our day-to-day life that can be challenging. Changing our lifestyle can feel very overwhelming, and as if life as we know it is over. Sometimes it can mean that it is time to slow down and learn a new way of life, even if only for a while. There are many was to manage your heart health with the help of your healthcare team.
Physically slowing down after a heart failure diagnosis
Some people live very busy and full lives and there is nothing wrong with that. One of the more common symptoms of heart failure is tiredness. By this I mean, tiring out quickly after a short walk, or a short exertion of energy for an activity. Learning to space physical activities out can be very helpful.
Slowing down physical activities can make a huge difference. Oftentimes your condition will leave you no choice. Be careful that you do not push yourself past your limits. Respect your body, and what it needs. There will be days when you have more energy than others and you will learn to read your body's needs. Working within your limitations can sometimes make your life easier.
How can I slow down mentally?
Mental exhaustion is a real thing, and stress can play a massive role in your heart health and managing heart failure. This can be a little more challenging to slow down and takes some dedication.
Make time to be still, pray, meditate, or just sit. Find a mindful activity, like journaling or writing or drawing, that can help you unwind. Try and organize your life in a way that makes things easier for you and take a load off of your stress. Finding small pockets in your day to reconnect and just be still can go a long way to reducing mental chaos.
Do not overcommit
It is so easy to want to be everywhere and be part of everything. It is fun and exhilarating. I have been known to want people to think that I am okay. This stops them from fussing over me, and it is easier than having long conversations about my health. Most importantly I do not want to let anyone down. As a result of this, I am known to over-commit even when I know I do not have the spoons to do whatever is happening. The negative impact this has on a person's body and heart health can be quite damaging.
It has taken for me to learn that I am as important as those around me and I deserve to also put myself and my health first. This is not selfish. Sometimes it looks like saying no and staying home and resting for days rather than being a social butterfly.
Slowing down is not stopping or giving up
I feel that this is a very important thing to soak in when you read it: slowing down does not mean stopping or giving up. So often I see people being very hard on themselves when they are no longer able to do what they were doing before, or even just not being able to operate their lives at the same pace that they were used to before. Be kind to yourself and please remember this is not giving up.
It is simply finding a new pace, one that is healthier and easier to manage, while keeping your heart health at the top of your list of priorities.
Have you experienced shortness of breath in the last week?