Doesn’t everyone spend their 40s being worried about their cardiovascular health? I ask that question because I find my 40-something self consumed by that fear. See, my Dad had a heart attack at the age of 44 – and he was the thinnest, fittest guy on the block! That was the beginning of my understanding that being active isn’t enough for long term health.
The saying “you can’t outrun a bad diet” is true, however our health teeters on more than just how we move and what we eat. Those are critical factors to control and did play a role in my Dad’s cardiovascular issues, but I believe the more powerful punch was the stress in his life.
Within the span of 18 months, his mother died, his son got married and moved away, he lost his job and then uprooted his family from sunny FL to snowy PA for a new job. Then, what seemed to be out of nowhere my dad was having open heart surgery for a blocked bypass at the age of 44.
The doctors attribute it to genetics (atherosclerosis and high triglycerides), however, my mom decided we were going to change the way we ate as a family. No more big Italian pasta dinners with bread at every meal and the ice cream was swapped with wheat grass and barley shots.
Eating cleaner and moving strong have always been activities I embraced as good habits for health. It’s morerecently that I’ve focused on the way stress impacts my health, more specifically heart health.
An article from HeartMath Institute says, “Research on the physical effects of stress has revealed that it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease fivefold, doubles the chances of diabetes onset and may even cause dementia and breast cancer.”
“Just as your emotions influence the behavior of your heart, the action of your heart communicates with your brain and the rest of the body.” In fact, the heart communicates more to the brain than the brain to the heart. This is why I’m spending more heart-centered attention to achieve heart coherence, thus leading to lower stress filled physical reactions and protecting my heart and health.
I’ll share some tips on achieving quick-coherence:
- Focus on the physical location of the heart.
- Imagine even breaths radiating from and returning to the heart and breathing at that pace.
- With each breath, remember a positive or calming memory. Think about times when love, compassion, joy, and safety were felt.
- Continue for 5 minutes and repeat as needed.
Part of my morning routine has been heart-centered breathing and with mindfulness, I’m working on my heartfulness! I won’t settle for “genetics” deciding my story. I’m going to do all I can to reverse that “curse”.