Lessons From My Heart

Lesson #1: Stress

Every sibling in my family has heart problems. My brother had a pacemaker implanted last year for a slow heart rate. My twin sister and I had the same slow heart rate. She doesn’t have a pacemaker yet. My heart condition advanced and became serious. Why did I get heart failure and not my siblings? The answer is mostly due to stress.

I was a single mom when my son was 2 1/2 and my daughter 3 months. If you have kids you know the challenge of parenting and the stress of everyday life. Well, being a single parent is challenging. My life was high stress for many years. Chronic stress can lead to many diseases or exarcerbate current health issues. I believe this led to my serious heart condition, caused depression which is proven to be linked to heart disease.

Managing your stress is one of the important things you can do to improve your health. There are many ways to manage your stress. Exercise, practice mindfulness, put yourself in time out to read a book or listen to music. Learn breathing exercises are very effective. Find ways that work for you and practice them everyday.

Lesson #2: Heart and mind connection

Heart disease and mental illness are connected. Depression can cause heart disease and vice versa. I had depression for many years partly because of environmental factors such as being a single parent and partly chemical. I didn’t realize how much my depression was affecting me. I was isolated and didn’t surround myself with community which increased my depression. I regret not getting help sooner as maybe my heart condition progression would of been different.

Take care of your mental wellness as you would your physical wellness. Surround yourself with supportive people. Get involved in community or hobbies that interest you. If you find yourself feeling depressed, get help don’t wait until it’s gets to be a crisis. There are many community resources such as your local NAMI chapter or speak with your primary care physician for resources.

Lesson 3: Educate yourself

Be your best advocate. Learn as much as you can about your health conditions. Educating yourself can relieve anxiety and you can feel empowered.

Once you learn about your health condition take it a step further and put it into action. Knowledge is power so use that power to live your best life. It sounds easy, but it’s not. I educated myself about my heart condition, but it’s an everyday struggle to manage it. I do the best I can with eating healthy and exercising. Just do the best you can too.

I would advise to be careful about where you search for information on the internet. Make sure to go to trusted sites like WebMD or AHA or Mayo Clinic. In addition too much information can be a bad thing. It’s easy to get caught up and hyperfocus on your condition constantly searching on the internet. I know, I fell into this trap. It caused unnecessary anxiety that was not helpful. Follow this link below to an informative article from American Heart Association.

http://spr.ly/6043ER401

Be mindful, just listen.

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