Have you ever signed a letter or card by drawing a heart for your salutation? Do you draw a heart when leaving a note in your child’s lunch box? Do you “heart” cities around the world?
When we draw a heart it is not representing our physical heart, but rather is a symbol of our love.
What if I were to tell you that the physical heart and the metaphysical heart (the emotional heart) were actually linked?
According to Dr. Dean Ornish, humans are “creatures of community” and need communication, love, and connection with ourselves, others, and the world at large.
Establishing positive relationships that support us and feed our souls are not only good for our emotional health but can affect our physical well-being as well. Research shows that negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear can cause inflammation in the body and one of the areas affected can be the heart. (www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease-overview/uncovering-the-link-between-emotional-stress-and-heart-disease)
So how can you nurture self-love and love for others (the metaphysical heart) in order to strengthen your physical heart health?
Following are three tips towards making marked progress for this goal:
- Eat Things That Serve You.
If you find yourself struggling in any area of your life – whether that be work, family, depression, grief, relationships, etc., your body needs extra micronutrients to replenish what it’s using to deal with the stress.
When things are hard, it’s all the more reason to eat nourishing, easy to digest simple food for both our minds and bodies. Be mindful of restricting diets or trying complicated recipes; stick to foods that warm you and add a superfood in such as mushrooms or turmeric for a little extra boost of nutrients.
But what about those homemade chocolate chip cookies that melt in your mouth? It’s okay! Reaching for something that brings you comfort is not prohibited, just make sure you slow down and really enjoy it. I recommend being extra mindful and savoring the smell, texture, and flavor of every bite. This will help with moderation. Moderation allows you to feel good in the moment, but prevents you from feeling worse in the long run.
- Allow Yourself to Feel Your Feelings Fully.
This will look different for everyone depending on what is present in your life (job stress, relationship issues, anxiety and fears, etc.), however, it’s important that whatever it is you are dealing with, it is experienced.
It can be easy (& at times appropriate and healthy) for some of us to compartmentalize our challenges, box them up, and place them in a closet out of sight, especially when it comes to dealing with grief, but habitually storing up all of those emotions can result in physical symptoms, not to mention the emotional effects of bottling it all up.
Finding space and time to feel your emotions rather than suppressing them can make all the difference.
Yes, this can bring about tears, but don’t fear it! The act of crying can be healing – and science agrees. A biochemical cascade of oxytocin and endorphins are released during crying and in effect, can help us feel better.
- Get In Touch With Your Body, Not Just Your Emotions.
Sitting with our emotions is vital to being kind and loving to ourselves. Connecting with our physical body is just as important.
Our bodies physically hold our emotions (different areas for everyone), and by bringing awareness to this we can recognize where we are hurting.
To connect with your body, try:
– meditation/body scans/deep breathing
– restorative yoga/stretching
Walking, hiking, or running outdoors with mindful attention to the natural surroundings can provide an extra sense of connection between ourselves and the earth. It requires paying attention to the experience, such as the temperature, the feel of the wind, the warmth of the sun, the song of the birds, etc. and can be grounding in our relationship to the world as a whole.
Is it time for you to develop your metaphysical heart in order to thrive in your physical well-being? If so and you live in the Boulder or Denver metro area, please call me at (720) 340-0193 to discuss how naturopathic medicine and my office can help you.
And that is something to “heart”!