Heart to Heart
Heart to Heart

After surviving a rare coronary artery dissection and massive heart attack while nine months pregnant, Nefertari has devoted her life to uplifting other heart patients and promoting heart health awareness.

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An Ounce of Prevention

One of the things I have learned since my heart attack is that avoiding (or at least learning how to manage) stress is one of the best things we can do for our overall health, and especially for heart health. But how? From work to raising a family to handling a daily commute, stress seems to be unavoidable. 

Before my heart attack, when I was still working for the school district, mornings were hectic around my house (to say the least). While the school-age children were preparing for their day, I was ironing clothes, packing lunches, searching for the matches to odd shoes, and making sure the smaller kids were staying out of trouble. 

Some mornings, one of my five children would "suddenly remember" that they had homework due that day. It was a mess, and it didn't end once the kids were ready for school. Then it was time to get myself ready for the day  I still had to shower and actually brush my hair, and maybe add a little make-up before we made our way out the door.

The first stop was the elementary school, then onto the middle school, and finally to grand mom's house (before she had her stroke). After that, it was time to hit the highway towards my job. Because I wasn't prepared or organized our family was constantly running late, which led to a frazzled commute. I would feel so tense if someone wasn't driving the proper speed limit. I could feel my blood pressure rise as I sat in traffic.

If there were any delays in traffic, fog or sun glare...forget it. Getting to work late was almost guaranteed. By the time I got to work, I found myself tired and stressed before the day even began. 

At the time I worked with disabled preschool students, which brought a smile to my face. It was challenging, but rewarding work.

After work I would leave and do it all again. I made the rounds to pick everyone up at their respective locations and then head home. Luckily, my husband would prepare dinner so that was one less thing for me to worry about.

My point is, in hindsight, I know that I should have spent more time organizing like I do now. A few simple steps can make a huge difference in avoiding day-to-day stressors. And as a heart patient, this is of the utmost importance for me and for my family. 

My children behave differently these days. They listen better and do things to help take some of the burden off of me. When I speak they generally stop to listen — I don't have to raise my voice or run around the house to find things. It's a work in progress, but it gets better every day. 

So can I (or anyone) avoid stress altogether? Probably not. But I am learning to manage it by changing the way that I view and live my daily life. Even the simplest changes have made a huge impact — I wish I would have made them sooner!

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Tags: How Outlook Affects Outcome , Learning Limitations

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About the Author

After surviving a heart attack, Nefertari has devoted her life to promoting heart health awareness.

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