There is a richness in experiencing a well heart. It’s easy to think of the heart as only a muscular organ that circulates blood throughout the human body. But the heart is so much more.
When we live and work with a fullness of heart, we bring our whole selves to people and situations. Our creativity blossoms with unlimited possibilities. We help others wholeheartedly and are fulfilled by our acts of giving. We seek to understand problems in greater depth—to reach the heart of the matter—so that life-enhancing solutions can emerge. Inner coherence and generosity become a touchstone from which to inspire positive change for our families, our workplaces and our communities.
Yet our heart is a resource we too often neglect. Poor nutrition, a lack of physical activity and rest, disconnection from ourselves and others, and too much stress contribute to inflammation in our bodies, lower energy and cognitive performance, and higher incidences of heart illnesses. In addition, new epigenetics research shows prenatal stress is linked with the onset of heart diseases as early as the first 1,000 days of childhood. Plus, the World Health Organization states the #1 cause of death globally is cardiovascular disease, much of which could have been prevented or reversed through lifestyle changes.
“The wellbeing of people is at the heart of truly successful businesses and communities. Are we giving people the tools to flourish?” —Jeffrey Abramson, Partner, The Tower Companies
How Can We Cultivate a Well Heart?
The Wellness MoonshotTM theme for February is the heart. Celebrate it by adopting these actions and inviting others inside and outside of your organization to do the same:
- Eat for a healthy heart. Choose fresh, local and organic foods when possible; get an abundance of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains; use plant-based oils and proteins; eat less red meat, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened foods and drinks; and strike a good balance between the calories you consume and the calories you expend.
- Give your heart a workout. Humans are designed to be active! Hold a walking meeting, use a standing desk, take the stairs, and incorporate an exercise routine and unstructured play into your life.
- Take nature to heart. Research shows forest bathing—mindfully resting and walking barefoot among trees, or “earthing,” in nature—helps you control reactive impulses, focus your attention, lower blood pressure and stress, recover from illness more quickly, and boost your immune system and mood.
- Meditate for your heart. Experiment with a five-minute breath focused on your heart, do a simple seated or moving mindfulness practice, or try a meditation technique. Mindfulness and meditation help you shift from the physiology of stress to a state of inner calm—and these practices can improve heart function and reduce your risk for heart disease.
- Spread love. Give a handwritten note of appreciation to someone and ask them to do the same for others. Or volunteer for a cause that matters to you. Through the doorway of the heart, you have the power to set off a positive contagion!
- Share your inspiration. Take a picture of you and others doing an action to cultivate a well heart. Then, post it on social media with #wellnessmoonshot. We’ll spread your inspiration to others!
It’s Time for the Heart
When leaders take the lead in the health and wellness care of people, the return on this wellness investment is thriving organizations and communities. Making the commitment to cultivate a well heart is one way all of us can be wellness leaders in reducing suffering, increasing human vitality, and creating a world free of preventable disease.
GWI Resources to Assist You:
- Be Well Lead Well®, Pulse Leadership Assessment System
- World Health Organization, Cardiovascular Diseases
- World Health Organization, Healthy Diet
- Transcendental Meditation for Cardiovascular Disease
- Mindfulness can improve heart health, Harvard Health Publishing