From your center within

Healthy hearts matter


February is a month that includes Valentine’s Day and is American Heart Month, a time when all you are encouraged to focus on your cardiovascular health. I have been contemplating the many layers of a healthy heart. How is your heart feeling this month?

Our physical heart health:
This Heart Month, the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention invites us to focus on learning how to control our blood pressure, manage our cholesterol and blood glucose levels, move more, eat healthier, stress less, work with our health care team, and quit smoking. Do you have your blood pressure checked regularly? Have you seen your primary health care team to know your blood levels of Vitamin D, glucose, and cholesterol panel? As a person who has been pre-diabetic twice in my life, seeing those not so healthy lab value trends has been motivating for me to make positive lifestyle changes. More fresh fruits, vegetables, movement, and relaxation have positively impacted my health.

Our emotional and mental heart health:
Stress is inevitable. How are you handling the ups and downs in your life? If you are hypervigilant and on high alert most of the time, you are dumping life-shortening chemicals into your body and aging prematurely. When you notice your body, mind and heart are triggered and your fight and flight kicks in, have a plan. Take some deep breaths. Go for a walk (yes, even in our cold Minnesota February!), call a friend, journal, listen to calming music, draw, paint, dance, laugh. Inner and outer stressors will change, and your capacity to limit their impact on your emotional and mental health is worthy of your intention and attention. Building resilience is a true gift to yourself and your community.

Our relational heart health:
Do your relationships enhance or deplete your well-being? Pay attention. Cultivate nourishing connections personally and professionally, in your families and communities. Are there relationships you think you should put effort into that no longer serve either of you? Consider an exit plan. In any relationship, conflict can arise. Have you developed the ability to respond instead of overreacting out of habit? Practice listening deeply when someone you care about comes to you with a tender topic that is causing them suffering. Be curious, hear them with an open mind and heart. Ask questions. Let them know they count, even if in the end you agree to disagree. When you approach another with your disappointment or needs not being met, speak for yourself instead of telling them they are somehow at fault. Maybe it is time to forgive yourself or another person. This is a great month for the proactive healing process of forgiveness.

Our community heart health:
We have been through a lot here in Minneapolis over the recent days. It can seem like there is a perpetual message that we are divided, polarized and different from one another. We are each invited to settle into our heart’s knowing that we are in fact all connected, all imagining a healthy, vibrant, flourishing community where everyone counts. This month, find an event to attend you have not been to before. Visit a gallery or locally-owned store for the first time. Explore a new outdoor space. Attend a community activity to propel the greater good. Organize a dinner party with great people you know but have not met each other. How else can you positively impact the heart of our community?
When we take a few moments to pay attention to what our heart is telling us, we make empowering authentic choices. Our mind, ego or conditioning can be quick to judge or think we already know. Be playful and open to new levels of wisdom from the lessons your heart can teach you. This is a month to challenge yourself to enhance your physical, mental, emotional, relational, and communal health!


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