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Share the love and live heart healthy
Happy Valentines Day! Whilst this day is historically used to celebrate the ones we are in a romantic relationship with, the science of love in any form is pretty far-reaching and rather essential to our overall wellbeing. Researchers have found that finding that being in the presence of someone you love can lessen pain, not to mention that practicing self-love and compassion play a key role in relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.
As the science suggests the importance of cultivating love and loving relationships with others and ourselves, we are hardly in a position to argue. But how do we do it? In a world where everything runs at a million miles per hour, with emails and social media constantly pinging into our lives, how do we put this time aside to nurture the face to face relationships that really matter?
Elevate your well being by connecting with those you love
Start by connecting with the people you love. These people may be your family, your close friends, children or partner. They are the people that make your world tick. The ones that you really couldn’t do without. Taking time to really connect with these people is a brilliant way of elevating your wellbeing, without you even realise you’re doing it.
3 simple steps to reconnecting with loved ones:
- Physical contact – hugs, cuddles and kisses are all essential for connecting with your close ones. Make sure you cuddle your kids and your partner before the day starts, and at the end of the day too (and some in-between if you can squeeze them in!) These all turn on the love hormone oxytocin, which makes us, feel good.
- Put quality time aside to spend with your loved ones, without the distraction of tech. Put your phones away, TV off and just focus on each other.
- Do an activity that you all enjoy enjoy with no distractions. Dinner, walking, and board games – whatever it is. Make it a regular fixture in your week or month.
Learn one heart healthy meal this week
That major organ pumping blood all around our bodies also needs some TLC to live a full and healthy life. We know that certain foods impact blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation, all of which can have some influence over developing heart disease. In fact in 2017, heart disease accounted for nearly one third of deaths worldwide.
The good news is there are heaps of heart friendly foods out there, all of which give your heart something it needs.
Some heart friendly foods include:
- Leafy greens – great for vitamin K and therefore preventing blood clots
- Whole grains – good at reducing cholesterol
- Berries – rich in antioxidants
- Avocadoes – reducing cholesterol and blood pressure
- Fatty fish and fish oil – high in omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart health
- Tomatoes – full of lycopene and associated with lower risk of heart disease and stroke
An easy way to give your heart some lovin’ is to learn one heart-healthy meal a week. Here are some easy suggestions.
Monthly heart-healthy meal plan:
Week 1: Baked salmon in a foil parcel with pesto and green beans, served with quinoa and crispy kale (bake in the oven with olive oil for 8-10 mins at 180C)
Week 2: Grilled tuna fillet with a brown rice jewelled salad (red peppers, green peas, spinach and tomato). For dessert, a bowl of berries and a melted dark chocolate sauce.
Week 3: Flaked salmon Mexican tacos, with homemade guacamole and a cavolo nero salad.
Week 4: Stuffed peppers with tomatoes, brown rice and walnuts, baked in the oven. Serve with an avocado and spinach salad.
Write a love letter to yourself
It may sound corny, but reading a love letter addressed to you is a pretty lovely feeling right? So why not write one to yourself? This is the perfect opportunity to remind yourself of the things you’re great at and why people love you. If it feels too cringe, ask a loved one to list out three qualities they love about you and use this as the basis of your letter. No one else has to read it, this is just for you!
Make your heart beat faster with a quick walk outside
We know how important it is to give our heart every chance we can when it comes to ensuring it can sufficiently pump blood around the body. Exercise is crucial to this, as well as helping lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, control weight and better blood sugar regulation.
This could be as simple as a swift 30 minute walk every day to make your heart beat faster and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Also it feels pretty good to be outside. Taking a loved one with you also counts as some feel-good reconnection time.
Get some body contact
A hug, tap on the shoulder, massage… all turns the love hormone oxytocin on and makes us feel good.
Oxytocin is often known as the ‘love hormone’ or the ‘cuddle hormone’, as it plays a significant role in social bonding, sexual reproduction, childbirth and the time following childbirth. It has also been associated with reducing anxiety and depression, so making sure body contact is part of your daily routine is really beneficial for all.
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