Happy Valentine's Day
It's February and love is in the air. You do your best to eat healthy, stay active, and get proper rest. But have you thought about stress? When we're stressed we're more vulnerable to indulge in less healthy habits. And those habits may have less than healthy effects on our hearts. For example, working more and sleeping less, feeling fatigued and getting less exercise, and this is not likely to help your stress levels. So maybe the best V-gift you can give yourself and your loved ones this year is making small, simple changes to reducing stress.
Here are my 3 go-to's for reducing stress:
1.Meditate- I practice daily for the last 2 years and it's been life changing! When I step away from my practice, because hey, life happens, I notice the difference immediately! Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace. Anyone can practice and you can start small, just 5 minutes a day. Once you've mastered 5, increase to 6, and work your way up to 20 minutes, 2x/day. No need to overthink this, just set a timer for 5 mins; sit up straight in a chair; take a slow deep breath, exhale fully, slowly; be still and present; become aware of your breath; notice when you want to move, practice staying still; when the mind wanders, simply come back to your breath.
2.Exercise-let's identify exercise for those of us that think if we don't show up to the gym and do 100 burpees that somehow it doesn't count. With 2 torn shoulders and a bad knee, I'm not doing a lot of the things I used to, but I move my body and honor what it allows me to do. This is not a competition, so if CrossFit is your thing, go for it, cycling, great, pilates, swimming, etc. This is simply about moving your body and movement can be anything. Walking, cleaning, dancing, sex, climbing the stairs. It all counts! Getting "moving" is shown to elevate mood and learning, and improved cognitive function. Exercise and other physical activity release endorphins, those feel good chemicals in the brain and also improves the ability to sleep which helps reduce stress. Commit to move at least 30 minutes/day!
3. Play-get in touch with your inner child. What did you love to do when you were a 10-year old kid? I was dancing, playing my guitar, and writing music. I feel like my soul is dying when I'm not expressing myself. What is it for you? Has life gotten in the way of your playtime? I encourage you to release your inner child and make time for play. Not sure where to start? Explore an activity, art class, cooking class, musical instrument, new language. Get creative and see how it shifts your outlook on the world and yes, decreases stress! More playtime please!
Here's to your heart health!
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