Why Valentines Day Is Good For Your Heart

Nurse Next Door

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Learn why relationships play an important role in home care

Happiness is the highest form of health – Dalai Lama

If you’re providing care for a loved one at home, or managing your own home care plan, as Valentines Day rolls around this year, whether you’re single or in a relationship, it’s the perfect opportunity to turn your attention to matters of the heart, and organise time with a good friend. 

Happiness and Heart Health

Did you know heart disease impacts one Australian every 28 minutes? Did you also know that the relationships and social connections you have play an important role in caring for your heart? Studies by positive psychologist Dr Martin Seligman found that strong relationships and social connections positively impact your happiness. Happiness, in turn has been shown to have real benefits on your physical health:

  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Reducing pain
  • Most notably, studies have shown that happiness can positively impact both our heart rate and blood pressure, reducing our risk of heart disease and increasing the likelihood of living a long and healthy life.

In short, social connections impact heavily on our physical health, and our ability to maintain a healthy heart, no matter our age. So while genetics and environment do have a part to play in our happiness, it’s good to note that 40% of our own happiness is achieved through a number of factors we can influence, not least of which is the relationships we develop and maintain throughout our life.

two elderly female friends have fun posing for the camera
 

Understanding this can be a true game changer if you’re accessing home care services or developing a home care plan for a loved one. No matter the level of care required, work with your Care Designer on a care plan that focuses not just on the daily tasks of care, but on building, maintaining and strengthening relationships with friends, family and community, and ensuring you are socially connected to your broader community. Whether it’s organising transportation to see family for a special occasion, taking a quick trip with your carer to the local pharmacist or library, or having your carer organise a night in with old friends, your happiness will be positively impacted by even the smallest of steps you can take to ensure you prioritise the relationships in your life.

A Sense Of Belonging

Healthy relationships influence your happiness by giving you a sense of belonging. Recognised by Nurse Next Door as one of the five pillars of home care and Happier Ageing, there is no doubt we all need regular, meaningful social interactions to increase our sense of who you are and where you belong, both within your close circle of friends and family, and the broader community.

Remaining at home in familiar surroundings allows you to feel a sense of belonging. A home care plan that includes social interactions will deepen that sense of belonging. Even the smallest of social interactions provides the opportunity for a shared experience,  key to building longer lasting positive memories that you can can help to alleviate loneliness when times are tough. Social interactions also increase the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships that build your emotional intelligence and empathy for others. Through your interactions and relationships you explore your own emotions in order to truly understand and respect yourself, reducing mental distress and increasing the likelihood you will experience longer lasting happiness

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Just a little bit of respect, as Aretha Franklin suggested, can make you feel a great deal happier.

Both an emotion you can feel and an action you can practice, respect is a big part of being able to identify what’s important to you, and recognising that you are important to someone else. Relationships therefore play an important role in being heard and seeing yourself as a valued member of a partnership, or a small group of friends or the community at large.

This leads to a healthier respect for both yourself and others and ultimately higher levels of satisfaction with your life, all of which adds up to a greater chance at happiness. 

Surround Yourself With Love

And of course, particularly with Valentine’s Day around the corner, we can’t forget love. Some in the scientific community suggest love actually promotes a calmness and sense of peace that may lower blood pressure. Studies have shown married people recover better from heart-related issues than those who are single. What they do agree on is that surrounding yourself by people (or pets) who love you unconditionally provides a support system that, on the whole, benefits your heart health.

On the flipside relationship problems can increase our stress levels – a key risk factor in heart disease. Did you know a broken heart, medically referred to as takotsubo cardiomyopathy is actually a very real, mostly temporary medical disorder in which the heart increases in size and struggles to pump blood efficiently. The cure? Cardiologist Chrisopher Suhar suggests love, whether from a partner, friend, sibling, parent, child or carer, will help to decrease stress and anxiety and benefit the heart greatly.

So whether it’s a Valentine’s date on February 14th or a cup of tea with a neighbour any other day of the year, whether you need a small amount of assistance to give you peace of mind, or high level care to remain at home, make sure you’re building relationships, creating lasting bonds with friends and lovers, and connecting with people around you to find your sense of purpose, increase your likelihood of happiness and take steps to a healthy heart and a long and happy life.

At Nurse Next Door we identify opportunities for you or your loved one to continue having shared experiences that will bring happiness – even if it’s small or simple. Call us today on 1300 600 247 to find your perfectly-matched caregiver.

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