Self Care Tips for a Healthier Heart

February is American Heart Month! Let’s take a look into some ways you can keep your heart healthy through self care!

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but there’s a lot you can do to prevent it. Taking time to care for your heart can be challenging as you go about daily life. But it’s easier than you think to show your heart the love it deserves each day. Small acts of self-care, like taking walks, getting quality sleep, and cooking healthy meals, help your heart. Research shows that self-care can help you keep your blood pressure in a healthy range and reduce your risk of heart disease and hypertension.

What does “self-care” mean? Researchers define self-care as what you do to stay healthy. It’s also what you do to care for any health problems you have, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or mental health disorders. It’s heart-healthy living.

What parts of your self-care routine help your heart? Self-care for your heart is really self-care for your whole self. You can improve and protect your health overall when you: Get a daily dose of physical activity, such as a brisk, 30-minute walk. Cook meals that are low in sodium and unhealthy fats. Take your medications as prescribed and keep your medical appointments. Sleep 7-8 hours a night. Manage stress through, for example, meditation, yoga, a warm bath, or quiet time with a good book or funny movie. Try to reach or stay at a healthy weight by moving more and having snacks like fruits and veggies ready to grab when hunger hits.

How can you make self-care for your heart easier? The trick is to plan ahead. Build heart-healthy activities into your daily self-care routine. Schedule things that are both good for you and important to you.

You might want to set aside time to:

  • Cook delicious, heart-healthy recipes. Choose some from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s delicious heart-healthy eating website.
  • Go for a bike ride, take an online exercise class, or have a family dance party.
  • Make that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off.
  • Organize your medications.

What are the obstacles to self-care? Research shows that the three main obstacles to self-care are:

  • Lack of confidence in one’s ability to make a change
  • Depression
  • Having more than one health concern

If you want to boost your confidence, or if you struggle with a mental health disorder, seek support of family and friends, or talk to a qualified mental health provider. Ask your health care provider for help handling the demands of multiple medical conditions.

What’s your health status? Part of self-care is knowing your health status. Even during uncertain and busy times, get your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels checked. Talk to your health care provider about your heart health.

How can technology help with caring for your heart? Your phone or favorite show can make getting off the couch difficult. But technology can be your heart’s best friend!

Tools that help with self-care for your heart include:

  • Wearable devices that measure steps, heart rate, and sleep
  • At-home blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate monitors
  • Online activity and healthy eating planners, like these from health.gov and MyPlate.gov