STEP OUT WITH SENIORS: Attitude aids heart health

What is the most valuable thing you have? Is it your home, car, artwork or a treasured memento from the past?

Maybe it is a person – parent, child, sister, brother or a best friend?

All of these are fine, but I would like to add one more. What about your heart? Without it, none of the others matter.

Your heart is that treasured pump in the middle of your chest that works away day and night without you even having to think about it. Squeeze, relax. Squeeze, relax.

February, with its Valentine Day on the 14th, is the month the American Heart Association reminds us annually that we need to take care of our hearts in order to live a long and healthy life.

In the past I have talked about taking care of our hearts in a very physical way – eating healthy foods, exercising, taking medication if we need it and being aware when things go wrong.

This time, though, I am going to focus on another way to help your heart stay healthy. Let’s take a look at our attitude because, believe or not, our attitude can affect our heart’s health.

The first thing we can do is eliminate destructive self-talk. “I can’t do that,” “I am too old,” “I used to do (blank) in 20 minutes, now it takes forever,” “No one will miss me if I do not go to...”

We are older. Things do take longer to do. We may not have the same amount of energy we used to have. So what?

We now have time to slow down a bit and take longer to do things, to make adjustments and be more introspective, all of which can make us mentally stronger and healthier. Why not try a few things to help you appreciate yourself more and put a bit of zing into your life?

Make a list of things you really love. It really does not matter what is on the list as long as you really do love it. For example, I love watching a glorious sunset, the smell of spaghetti sauce, teaching a class, making a bed when the sheets are still warm, listening to a bubbling fountain, holding a baby, watching certain TV shows. Whenever you feel a bit blue, take out your list and remind yourself that there are good things and good people you love.

Treat yourself to something nice – a magazine, new book, CD, a red hat. Buy yourself a pot of brightly colored primroses. You see them all over town – at the grocery stores and hardware stores. Put it where you will see it often. They are 99 cents and you definitely are worth 99 cents. Let it brighten up your day.

Try to be more tolerant of yourself and others. You know, it really is a waste of emotional energy to criticize the way other people do things and get ourselves all worked up. It just fills us up with more of those negative thoughts we are trying to get rid of.

Finally, think positively about yourself. Celebrate the things you can do whether they take longer or not. Remind yourself that you are a good person, that you can learn to do new things, have fun, be a good friend and enjoy life more fully.

Seniors, let’s lift ourselves up and step out into a more positive way of life.

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