Heart Health for the Mind and Body

By Amy Weitzel

When my kids were little, they loved to have special Band-Aids for any cut, bump, bruise, or even imaginary wounds. My oldest daughter loved cat Band-Aids. My son loved Spiderman. And my youngest daughter was all about the princesses. It’s amazing how the simple act of putting a Band-Aid on would suddenly make everything better.

I find it interesting that we don’t think twice about fixing our physical ailments but pay little attention to fixing our emotional wounds.

February is Heart Health month. I’m certain the month is meant to bring awareness to the physical health of the heart in regards to cholesterol and high blood pressure. But I think we should also focus on the emotional heart.

Why as adults have we grown up to think we just need to “power through” whatever is emotionally troubling?

When my youngest daughter was in kindergarten, I always knew when she’d had a rough day at school as she would march through the front door without a word and go and get in her PJs and come sit on my lap. It didn’t matter that it was only 12:30 in the afternoon. She would come and sit on my lap, and when she was ready, she would talk about what was bothering her.

As adults, we have bad days at work, and it affects our home life and vice versa. Instead of dealing with the issue by talking it through with a counselor or trusted friend and examining the issues at hand, we try to power through hoping they will go away. This rarely works, and issue after issue compounds our emotional stress, which can manifest in depression, anxiety, angry outburst — all of which have negative results.

It’s time we begin to acknowledge our emotional heart health and learn to deal with emotions as they arise. This will only help us heal our emotional wounds in a positive way so we can move on in life rather than let the weight of our issues bog us down.

I’m not sure I would recommend my daughter’s solution to a bad day: It may not be appropriate to put on your PJs in the middle of the day, sit on someone’s lap, and talk about your problems. But there are several ways to put Band-Aids on our emotional heart wounds:

  1. Acknowledge: The very first step is to acknowledge your emotions.  Acknowledging your emotions will immediately help lower the intensity and allow you to process more effectively.
  2. Talk: Whether talking with friends or with a counselor, talking through issues help your brain process emotions. Studies on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have shown that just the simple act of talking about problems reduces stress.
  3. Exercise: Exercise releases natural endorphins to help reduce the perception of pain, and it triggers positive emotions in the brain. If you find yourself stress at work, trying to power through will not get you anywhere. Get up for a few minutes and go for a brisk walk or climb a flight of stairs. When you get back to your desk, notice how much more clear your thinking has become.

This Heart Health month, don’t forget to take care of the entire you: mind and body.

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