When you’re juggling career, family, social obligations and other items on your to-do list, you may find that self-care tends to fall off the list. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When it comes to your health, it’s important to make time for that organ that keeps you ticking.
So how can you prioritize your heart while still managing life’s responsibilities? Here are four simple steps.
- Choose healthy snacks.
When you’re pressed for time, it can be tempting to reach for convenience foods, like chips or cookies, to satisfy cravings between meals. Instead, choose heart-healthy foods that you can easily pack for on-the-go snacking.
Toss nuts and veggies, such as walnuts, grape tomatoes and baby carrots, into plastic bags or storage containers for a nutrient-rich snack. Popcorn is an excellent whole-grain snack, which can help keep you full longer. Whole grains have also been shown to reduce heart disease risk.
- Take a quick break.
Stress can influence factors, such as blood pressure, that can put you at risk for heart disease. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself space to take a break — even if only for a few minutes — to relax and refocus.
When you have a moment to yourself, pause and take a few slow, deep breaths. You may even consider winding down your day with a few minutes of quiet meditation, reflection or listening to soothing music.
- Go for a walk.
Walking is a great way to get active, while lowering your chance of heart disease. When going on errands, consider walking, instead of driving, if your destination is not too far.
And if you spend a lot of your day sitting, take a few minutes to stand up and go for a brisk walk. Some studies have shown that brisk walking may reduce one’s chances of dying from heart disease, compared to walking slowly.
- Know your numbers.
A key step to preventing heart disease is to know your numbers — your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, fasting glucose and body mass index (BMI) are a good start. Schedule an annual checkup with your doctor. Along with screening tests to determine your numbers, your doctor can review your family medical history to assess your risk for heart disease.
Sharp Grossmont Hospital also offers cardiovascular health screenings. The screenings include checking your cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure, as well as special exams that look at plaque buildup in your arteries and look for any weakened blood vessels. You’ll also receive a personalized consultation with a nurse and dietitian.