You forgive from the bottom of your heart and love with all of it. When you open up to someone, you pour your heart out. You are vulnerable when you wear your heart on your sleeve and feel its weight when thoughts sit heavy there. It skips a beat when you are joyful and excited, and, the ones you treasure most will always have a place in your heart.
The human heart is an organ that plays a massive role in our lives. Not only does it connect us to our emotions, but most importantly, it pumps our bodies full of life-giving blood, carrying oxygen and other vital nutrients we need to survive. With each beat, life is happening and when we’re alive, our minds are active, which leads to thoughts, then feelings and emotions. It’s an undeniable physical and spiritual connection.
It’s important to make sure you’re taking care of your heart, not only on a physical level, but also on an emotional one. To be honest, I struggle with this, putting a beating on my heart without giving it a chance to recover. I ask so much of it and never give it the love it craves and deserves. And, I’m not the only one. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American adults (particularly women) and nearly one in five adults has some form of a mental illness.
It’s time to start taking better care of our hearts with a holistic approach. We need to shower them with love. Read on for five ideas on how to do just that.
#1 Find Your Heart’s Beat and Listen to It
To understand what your heart needs, tune in and listen to it. Your mind, heart and body all work together, but they have separate voices. Your mind tells you tasks for the day and gives you thoughts about tomorrow. While your body lets you know when you’re sick, hungry, energized or overworked, your heart tells you about your true self.
The queen of tapping into hearts, Oprah Winfrey explained this best with her response to a young girl’s question about making a difference in the world, “Every one of us has an internal guidance, a GPS, an intuition, a heart print, a heart song that speaks to us,” she said. “Your only job is to be able to listen and discern when it’s speaking versus your head and your personality speaking, and if you follow that you will be led to the highest good for you, always.”
The voice of the heart runs deep in yourself, and tapping into this voice requires you to listen with intent. Take time to sit quietly and scan your heart. What is it longing for? How are your emotional and physical states? There in the stillness, you’ll hear your heart.
Transcending beyond the physical heart health requirements and moving into the spiritual realm requires you to open yourself to pure honesty, love, kindness, compassion and hope. Let yourself be OK with feeling emotions and embracing your heart. From resting and recharging to finding activities that feed your good vibes, there are many ways to show your heart some much needed appreciation.
#2 Recharge and Soothe Your Heart With Meditation & Yoga
The heart brings together the physical and spiritual parts of your life. You put your heart through so much excitement—from chasing dreams, to failed romances, to spin classes. Every physical and mental aspect of your life impacts your heart, which is why mind-body activities like meditation and yoga can be a beneficial form of heart care.
The techniques used in meditation and yoga practices help you focus on your breath and calm the mind, giving your body a chance to be easy on your heart. Dr. Deepak Bhatt, cardiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School recommends meditating regularly as a way to help reduce cardiovascular risks. “It appears to produce changes in brain activity. It also can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress,” he explained. Of course yoga takes the meditation practice a step further by incorporating slow movements, postures and stretches. When practicing yoga, your muscles become more sensitive to insulin as you exercise and stretch which helps control your blood sugar.
Along with a nutritious diet and cardiovascular exercise, yoga and meditation can have a huge impact on your heart’s health at a physical and emotional level. So roll out your yoga mat or take a seat, focus on your breath and give your heart a recharge.
#3 Pour on the Happy Feelings
Since your heart is an emotional organ, it experiences the roller coaster of life and all the feelings that come with it. Which means, your heart also has favorite feelings and the best part is that they are the same as yours. This is why people often advise you to follow your heart!
Do something that brings you joy, peace, confidence, relief, happiness and cheer, and leaves you hopeful and inspired. One of my favorite ways to treat my heart is watching romantic comedies while I drink champagne and snack on a cupcake—it’s my most blissful ritual. I love the feeling of watching the characters fall in love as they overcome obstacles, almost always each other, and finally end up happily-ever-after. There are good vibes all around, and it always uplifts me.
For you, this could be curling up by the fireplace with a good book, or putting on a Frank Sinatra playlist, or making your favorite pasta dish. Take time to do some of your favorite things because it’s a guarantee that your heart enjoys them, too.
#4 Write a Love Letter to Your Heart
Your heart does so much for you every moment of every day. It is the beat in every step you take and the pulse of your feelings. It allows you to experience laughing with friends, exploring new places, listening to music that feeds the soul and loving someone with all you have. Show some gratitude to your heart and jot it down onto a “thank you” note.
Think about everything that you are grateful for when it comes to matters of the heart. Those times in your life when you looked to your heart for guidance, or extended loving kindness to stranger or coworker, or moments when you truly felt each heart beat. Running your first race, overcoming an illness, or just climbing a flight of stairs—that’ll get your heart pumping.
The American Psychology Association published a study that evaluated a correlation between having a sense of gratitude and person’s overall health. The study had 186 women and men participants with heart failure keep a gratitude journal for two months. Through blood tests they were able to look at the affects on the participants hearts and they found that those who had a better sense of gratitude had lower levels of inflammation and better heart health.
Get out a piece of paper or find your prettiest stationary and give thanks to your heart.
#5 Have a Heart-to-Heart Talk With Someone You Love
Reach out to a best friend, your mom, dad or a mentor, someone you trust with your vulnerabilities and cares, and ask to connect with them. This can be as simple as meeting for coffee or taking a weekend getaway. Either way, you’re heart knows what it needs. There’s a reason we tend to feel better after pouring our hearts out to someone who loves us.
When it comes to understanding the type of healthy relationships that are good for our hearts, Brené Brown’s perception is best suited. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she defines connection as an “energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued,” “give and receive without judgement,” and “derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Our hearts benefit from the connection our relationships give us when we, and the other person, approach it with these values.
Honor your heart by finding a trusted person who you can lean on for a soul-baring chat. Chances are their heart could use it, too. Loving your heart doesn’t have to be a duty, but a sacred act. While it is a complicated organ, taking care of it in a way that goes beyond the physical can be simple. All your heart asks of you is to take a holistic approach and show kindness to your mind and body, make meaningful connections with others and flood your life with gratitude. When you do this and show your heart some love, you bring love to yourself.
When you allow yourself to open up to self-love, you tend to take better care of yourself, which leads to better health overall. The heart love leads to self-love, and self-love leads to a happy heart. Do your heart some good; it begins with one simple act of honoring what a giving and powerful organ it truly is.