February Matters of the Heart

February is known as American Heart Month – a month to focus on heart wellness as well as matters of the heart with Valentine’s Day and National Random Acts of Kindness Day.

Celebrated since the 14th Century, Valentine’s Day has served as an annual reminder to reflect on those with whom we share love and to demonstrate in some way our sincere thankfulness for others’ affections.

I remember exchanging those Valentine’s Day cards in Mrs. Crawford’s first-grade class at Central Elementary in Lewisville many years ago. Filling my classmates’ decorated shoe boxes was a tradition that served as an opportunity to show appreciation for friendship and to let others know how much we care.

In times of stress and strife, taking time to demonstrate kindness and consideration to others in our lives becomes even more important – both to them and for ourselves.

Whether friends, family, or even strangers, these acts of kindness can truly make a difference in someone’s day and even in their lives. And it can have a boomerang effect on the giver.

Something as simple as a compliment or as significant as a dozen roses can achieve the same result – showing someone you care.

Research has shown that performing random acts of kindness can boost heart health.  Acts of kindness are good for the body, increasing self-esteem, empathy, and compassion and improving mood as well as decreasing blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone that directly impacts stress levels, according to the Mayo Clinic Health System. High levels of cortisol can create inflammation which in turn can increase heart disease.

In addition, the kindness shown to others can increase oxytocin, a hormone that lowers blood pressure and dilates blood vessels, both of which improve cardiovascular health.

Feb. 17 was National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Ideas from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/ range from giving someone a gift card for a cup of coffee to writing a letter or sending a card to let someone know you are thinking of them. As we say in Boy Scouts, “Do a Good Turn Daily.” We should try to live this way year-round, not just this special day in February. It will help us be better people, build better communities, and a better Denton County.

With American Heart Month in February, doing things to help heart health makes sense.

According to the American Heart Association, going for a walk, taking a power nap, or practicing deep breathing can help manage constant stress which in turn may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Planning time with family and friends, taking more “me” time to relax, and following guidelines for exercise and diet are great ways to stay
heart healthy.

Learn more about heart-healthy tips from
the American Heart Association
at www.heart.org/.

However, you choose to celebrate February, know if it comes from the heart that is all that matters.

As a reminder, early voting for the March 1 Primary Election began on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. To find out more information about times, dates, and locations, visit www.votedenton.gov/upcoming-election-information/.

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