Make Heart Health Part of Your Self-Care Routine

Devoting a little time every day to care for yourself can go a long way toward protecting the health of your heart. Simple self-care, such as taking a moment to de-stress, giving yourself time to move more, preparing healthier meals, and not cheating on sleep, can all benefit your heart.

And that’s a good thing because heart disease is largely preventable, and focusing on improving your heart health has never been more important. Heart disease is a leading cause of death for women and men in the United States, and many Americans remain at risk of getting it, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). People with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Studies show that self-care routines, such as taking a daily walk and keeping doctor’s appointments, help us keep our blood pressure healthy and reduce our risk of heart disease and stroke.

It may be easier than you think to “put your heart” into your daily routine. Look at your week’s schedule each Sunday and carve out 30 minutes daily for heart-healthy practices. Take an online yoga class, prepare a heart-healthy recipe, schedule your bedtime to get at least seven hours of sleep, or make a medication checklist. Then, seek support from others, whether online or via phone, to help you stick to your goals.

Here are a few self-care tips to try every day to make your heart a priority:

Self-Care Sunday
Find a moment of serenity every Sunday. Spend some quality time on yourself.

Mindful Monday
Be mindful about your health and regularly monitor your blood pressure or blood sugar if needed. Monitor your weight to ensure it stays within or moves toward a healthy range. Being aware of your health status is key to making positive change.

Tasty Tuesday
Choose how you want to approach eating healthier. Start small by pepping up your meals with a fresh herb or spice as a salt substitute. Get adventurous and prepare a simple, new, heart-healthy recipe. Or go big by trying a different way of eating, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure. DASH is flexible and balanced, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, lean meats, beans, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

Wellness Wednesday
Don’t waffle on your wellness. Move more, eat a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried, make a plan to quit smoking or vaping, or learn the signs of a heart attack or stroke. You could be having a heart attack if you have chest and upper body pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, or lightheadedness. You might be having a stroke if you have numbness in the face, arm, or leg, confusion, trouble talking or seeing, dizziness, or a severe headache.

Treat Yourself Thursday
Treats can be healthy. Try making a dessert with fresh fruit and yogurt. Then, stretch your imagination beyond food. Host a family dance party, take a few minutes to sit still and meditate, go for a long walk, or watch a funny show. Laughter is healthy. Whatever you do, find a way to spend quality time on yourself.

Follow Friday
Follow inspiring people and pages on social media, or text a friend to help you stick to your self-care goals. Remember to take care of your mental health, too. Two of the main hurdles to self-care are depression and a lack of confidence, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. If your mental health gets between you and your fabulous self, take action to show your heart some love. Contact family and friends for support, or talk to a qualified mental health provider.

Selfie Saturday
Inspire others to take care of their hearts. Talk about your self-care routine with loved ones or share a selfie on social media. Social support and personal networks can make getting regular physical activity, eating nutritious foods, reaching a healthy weight, and quitting smoking easier.