February: the time of year when it seems everyone is focused on finding and keeping love. Fancy dinner reservations, wine and chocolate abound in a world awash with pink and red hearts. But it’s also a time to focus on your physical heart.
Your spiritual and emotional well-being is connected to your heart health. According to the American Psychological Association, your mental and emotional health can impact your physical health in two ways. First, stress can lead to high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. Secondly, emotional distress can prevent you from making and sustaining the healthy choices necessary for cardiovascular health.
How do you ensure your spiritual and emotional well-being? A nice glass of wine and some good chocolate always make my heart swell. So does practicing kindness, particularly making time to care for others. Find some time this month to do something nice for someone – check in on an elderly neighbor, drop off some soup or cookies to a friend (store-bought is just fine), or finally grab coffee with that friend you keep saying you’ll get together with.
Did you know massage therapy is also good for the heart? Massage therapy can lower many of the risk factors associated with heart disease. Recent studies have shown that massage therapy can lower your blood pressure, and the effects can last for at least several days. Massage has also been demonstrated to reduce hypertension and heart failure.
Although stress is not a direct cause of heart disease, it can contribute to some of the risk factors of heart disease. And we all know how effective massage therapy is in managing stress.
Have you had cardiac surgery? Research shows that massage is beneficial both before and after surgery. Massage therapy can help a patient with the pain, anxiety and tension typically associated with surgery.
No matter how you choose to recognize American Heart Month, make sure you take care of your own.