Maintaining Heart Health During the Coronavirus

Maintaining heart health is an intentional endeavor. It takes constant care. Living with heart disease my entire life has taught me this valuable lesson. Equally true is that stress affects our hearts in unimaginable ways. It can literally worsen any cardiac issue. The intent of this article is to remind you to guard your heart at all times.

Our senses are heightened

Stress is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”1 With that being said, the Coronavirus pandemic is causing most people to experience significantly high levels of stress. News reports, shelter at home directives, rising death tolls, and climbing rates of infection render us vulnerable emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Our senses are heightened as we are fearful for our lives and the lives of those we love. It feels as if we are in a nightmare from which we cannot awaken.

This is not a nightmare

Unfortunately, this is not a nightmare. This is real. The damage that stress, worry, and frustration do to one’s heart and overall health is also well-known. To profess that I don’t worry would be a fallacy. I, like many others, am under a considerable amount of stress. 

Managing multiple chronic illnesses, being a caregiver and thinking about the coronavirus and its ruinous effects have me on a pilgrimage for peace. I consistently seek methods to de-stress and unwind. With that being said, I am cognizant of the possibly dangerous implications of neglecting my heart health.

Tips for this time

Living with cardiac disease compromises our immune system. It thus behooves us to adopt healthy methods of stress management that will protect our hearts and sustain our well-being, especially in a troubling time as the Coronavirus pandemic. Below are a few methods employed by me as I make a valiant effort to free my heart from the heaviness of stress and worry.

Keeping a journal – I have been chronicling my life for quite some time. Writing often liberates my mind and alleviates my perturbation. In my journal are my joys, pains, fears, and concerns.  Journaling allows me to disencumber oppressive thoughts while remaining connected to the here and now.

Mood enhancing mobile apps – We live in a technologically advanced world. Many applications are available to enhance one’s mood, combat depression and/or re-route a person’s mindset. In the past, I have used the Happify application with fruitful results. What I especially liked about the app were the check-ins and activities. Examples of other apps include Talk Life and What's Up. The exercises are designed to decrease depression while empowering individuals.

Social circles – Maintaining your social circles are crucial at this time. Shelter at home directives and the like contribute to feelings of isolation. Remember that support can exist virtually. Many of us have built our circles of support virtually and you are never truly alone.

Move more – Disclaimer! Follow the directives of your physician/medical care team at all times. I am not a medical professional. Data suggests that physical activity is a stress reliever and mood enhancer.  People who walk or exercise reportedly experience less stress. Moving more is my personal goal. Coronavirus may have changed the execution of your exercise regimen, yet if possible and with permission, move as much as you can.

Eat well – Stress and boredom often encourages emotional eating. It behooves us to eat well-balanced meals and snacks. A healthy diet is conducive to improved physical, mental and psychological health.

Listen to your body – You are the expert so always listen to your body. If something does not feel right reach out to your medical team. You are your best advocate. Diligence and Vigilance are crucial!

Hope – Maintain hope. This is a tumultuous time but we are survivors. Never give up. Hope has sustained us and it is eternal.

Be well, take care of yourself, and remember that your heart matters.

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