While Valentine’s Day gets the majority of the heart-related attention in February, there’s another reason to celebrate – February marks American Heart Month, an observance focused on raising awareness about maintaining a healthy heart through proactive prevention. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Even if you are young and healthy, it is important to begin tracking and monitoring your heart’s health. Healthy habits formed in early adulthood can have long-lasting positive impacts on your well-being. Although some individuals may face certain risk factors for this disease outside of their control, the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center outlines how certain medical conditions associated with heart health are “controllable, and entirely preventable in some cases with lifestyle changes.”
Here are a few ideas for improving your heart health:
Understand your potential risks. Consider making an appointment with your primary care physician at least once a year to exclusively discuss and evaluate your heart health. Be open about your family history, discuss your current medications and routinely monitor your cholesterol. You can also use self-service blood pressure kiosks located at several pharmacies and drug stores to check-in on your levels. The American Heart Association’s My Life Check® self-assessment tool can provide insight in to your personal risk factors.
Get your heart pumping. While any form of routine exercise is likely to bolster your holistic health, this blog from Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends focusing on three types of exercise for your heart: aerobic, resistance training and flexibility-centric movements. Boosting your endurance and strength doesn’t always have to happen at a gym, and you can always consult your Command Fitness Leader for new ideas on how to stay active. No matter your preferred activity, reducing your stress levels through exercise can also improve your heart health.
Practice healthy eating. Ingredients found in processed food may lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even heart disease. Building balanced meals and incorporating healthy options as much as possible is important to maintaining your health. NHLBI’s comprehensive set of heart healthy eating resources offers recipe ideas and tailored eating plans. From avocado and shrimp spring rolls to banana oat cookies, this list of aggregated recipes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Million Hearts® 2022 initiative outlines creative ideas for eating mindfully.
Improving your overall health doesn’t just start and end with making sure your heart is strong. Push forward with your other 2020 resolutions and your heart, as well as the rest of your body and mind, will thank you.
Posted in 1 Small ACT, Behavioral Fitness, Physical Fitness, Resilience, Self-Care, Stress
Tagged emotional health, exercise, Health, healthy eating, healthy lifestyles, heart, Nutrition, physical fitness, physical health, Psychological Health, Self-Care
Healthy relationships are built on fundamental tenants of respect, honesty, support and equality. The beginning of the year is a great time to check in on your interpersonal relationships with your friends, family and peers to set healthy boundaries. Recognizing and responding to unhealthy behaviors in your interpersonal relationships is critical to your emotional and relationship health. January marks National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to educate yourself and others about stalking.
Recognized as a crime in all 50 states, the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women defines stalking as “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.” In 2015, The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that nearly 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men were victims of stalking.
Stalking can be difficult to recognize, especially when the entertainment industry often romanticizes persistence in relationships as a form of flattery. The National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource center outlines the following behaviors of stalkers:
- Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups.
- Follow you and show up wherever you are.
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, texts, or e-mails.
- Damage your home, car, or other property.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
- Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
- Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
- Find out about you by using public records or on-line search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
- Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.
To learn more about stalking and other unhealthy relationship behaviors, visit the following resources:
- What to Do If You are Being Stalked, Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center
- Stalking Incident and Behavior Log, Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center
- A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Stalking Fact Sheet, The National Center for Victims of Crime (Stalking Resource Center)
- The Use of Technology to Stalk and the Workplace, The National Center for Victims of Crime (Stalking Resource Center)
- Safety Tips for Stalking Victims, WomensLaw.org
If you or someone you know needs help, utilize the following hotlines:
- National Center for Victims of Crime: 1-855-4-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
As we’re in the month of New Year’s resolutions, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the past and the opportunities for growth that lie ahead. If one of your goals is to live more mindfully and empathetically this year, consider committing to regular journaling. While journaling is not a one-size-fits-all solution to following your full self-care plan, journaling can have several benefits for your psychological, emotional and relationship health. Recording your thoughts and feelings is often useful when navigating stressful experiences, revisiting interpersonal dynamics and reflecting on your evolving activities and perspectives.
According to the University of Rochester’s Medical Center, journaling can advance your well-being by: “helping you prioritize problems, fears and concerns, tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them and providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors.” Jumpstart your journaling with these tips:
Carve out time. Like forming any other healthy habit, devoting time and energy to journaling will help establish the practice as a routine part of your schedule. Picking a specific time of day devoted to journaling may also help solidify the norm. Whether its daily, twice a week or a few times a month, consider making a goal about the frequency of creating your entries that effectively fits in to your calendar.
Let go of ideas of what you “should” write. You may be thinking – what is worth recording? How do I get all of my thoughts out on a page? What details should I include or leave out? By eliminating any parameters, you’ll be able to think more about journaling with a stream-of-consciousness mindset. This could lead to increased self-discovery and a more representative picture of what’s on your mind and your types of responses to different situations. There’s no correct or incorrect way to journal, and how you document different experiences is completely up to your preference.
Get inspired if you feel stuck. While journaling and other forms of self-reflection may create an uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability, there are several accessible resources and frameworks to leverage as prompts or inspiration. Your entries could focus on highlighting items such as: one positive thing you did for someone over the course of a day, an affirmation to yourself, or one memorable expression of gratitude from your week. Finding prompts online that resonate with you can help you progress and lead to new ideas. If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick list of prompts that can help you process and write about something going on in your life:
- What’s on my mind?
- How should I have reacted in hindsight?
- How are things different now?
- What would I say to a younger version of myself?
- What am I grateful for?
- Who helped me?
Choose the right format for you. Journaling is often associated with physically writing down thoughts and feelings via a pen and paper. If picking out a new notebook isn’t something that gets you motivated, consider exploring different digital apps that offer online spaces for journaling. You could devote a specific section of your planner or calendar tool for journal notes and entries. If you prefer to learn and communicate more visually, you could opt to include forms of artistic expression to complement or substitute entries (e.g., photo collages, graphics, paintings).
For more ideas on how to live mindfully this year, check out these other articles from our blog:
Posted in Health, Psychological Fitness, Resilience, Suicide Prevention
Tagged emotional health, emotions, journaling, mental health, Psychological Health, psycological health, Relationships, Self-Care, stress
The Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) is conducting its annual DoD Suicide Prevention Month Outreach Recognition to honor one exemplary installation from each of the services and one from either the Reserves or National Guard. This recognition honors the installations with the most dedicated and influential efforts commemorating Suicide Prevention Month. Recipients will be recognized for their efforts to be there for service members, their families and DoD civilians by educating, engaging and building community support for suicide prevention.
For recognition consideration, events must occur during the month of September 2019, though they may be sustained beyond that time to promote ongoing engagement. All Navy events must adhere to the safe messaging guidelines included in the FY-20 1 Small ACT Toolkit to ensure that they do not unintentionally place vulnerable individuals at increased risk and convey a positive narrative. Additionally, Navy events should promote one or more of the following “Every Sailor, Every Day” campaign concepts:
- Educate on suicide risk factors, protective factors and warning signs;
- Empower proactive self-care, early intervention and seeking help;
- Promote open, positive and ongoing dialogue about stress, psychological health and suicide; and
- Demonstrate practical applications of the “1 Small ACT,” “BeThere” and/or “Small Steps Save Lives” messages.
All nominations must be submitted via email to Navy Suicide Prevention Program at email@example.com no later than November 1, 2019. To nominate your local efforts:
- Provide no more than a 750-word narrative, using 12-point Times New Roman describing your installation’s event(s) and/or activity/activities throughout September 2019. Including pictures, fliers and other supporting material is encouraged.
- Include SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) measures of effectiveness of each activity or event (i.e., qualitative or quantitative data demonstrating how the activity or event affected the community such as number of participants, populations participating, or survey outcomes, etc.).
- The email subject line should read “2019 DoD Suicide Prevention Month Outreach Recognition _ installation name”. The file naming convention should read “2019SPM _ installation name”.
- Coordinate with your homeport or installation’s public affairs office to ensure that only one nomination is submitted per installation.