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Keep Your Friends Close

Support and help from friends and family are key as you heal after a heart attack. Research shows that people with social support during recovery are less likely to feel depressed and more likely to feel better about life in general. Be sure to take it easy with the visiting at first, though. Too much company can make you more tired. If you’d like to connect with others who have been through a heart attack, in-person or online support groups or cardiac rehab can boost your morale as well.

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Perk Up Your Morning Groove

Trying to make some heart-healthy habit changes? It can seem daunting to revamp your diet or start exercising. But making little, healthy upgrades part of your morning routine is an easier way to start some of those behaviors. For example, after you brush your teeth, you might do some stretches or a push-up, take a few deep breaths, or set a new goal for the day. Once your small change takes hold, you can expand on it.

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photo of man sleeping in bed
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Get Plenty of ZZZs

Quality sleep is crucial for physical and emotional health. Make it a priority to get enough rest every day. To get a better night’s rest, limit your daytime naps. Too many can make it harder to settle in later. An hour before bed, put away your phone or computer and turn off the TV. Instead of screen time, do something calming, like reading a book. If you’re still awake 30 minutes after you lie down, get up and do something else for a while until you feel sleepy.

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Take a Walk

A daily walk can strengthen your heart and clear your mind. It cuts stress, enhances your mood, and gives you an energy boost. Start out slowly over the first few minutes. Shoot for about 10 minutes on your first outing, but build up to hit the 30-minute mark most days. Find a buddy to walk with if you can.

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Say Thank You

Carve out a few minutes each day to write down everything you’re grateful for. One study found that gratitude can improve your outlook on life and even make your heart healthier. When people with heart problems kept gratitude journals for 2 months, their hearts were healthier, and they had less inflammation. The practice also led to sounder sleep, lighter moods, more energy, and better sense of spiritual well-being.

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Go Easy on Yourself

It’s easy to get bogged down in feelings of anxiety, guilt, or anger after a heart attack. See if you can reframe self-blame or negative thoughts into positive messages. Think about the good changes you’re making, both to your physical and emotional health. Celebrate even the small successes you have in getting healthier. A brighter outlook can pay off -- a growing amount of research shows that optimism is linked to better heart health.

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Spend Quality Time With Your Pet

Studies show pets can help you get physically active, ease stress, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and just make you happy. You can get your 30 minutes of exercise time simply walking your dog. Plan outings like going to the park. Don’t have a pet? Think about volunteering at an animal shelter.

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Hang Out With Nature

You’ve likely heard that fresh air and getting outside is good for you. But one study found concrete benefits. Researchers compared mental effects of 50-minute nature walks to urban strolls. People who walked amid trees and grass were less anxious, more positive, and even had sharper memories. Go for a walk in the park or take a few quiet moments to sit and breathe deeply as you savor the outdoors.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 01/07/2021 Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 07, 2021

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

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SOURCES:

National Heart Foundation of Australia: “First Steps For Recovery.”

American Heart Association: “How to Upgrade Your Morning Routine,” “Study: Gratitude is a Healthy Attitude,” “Post Surgery Milestones: Managing Your Mood, Expectations, and Goals,” “Can Your Pet Help You Be Healthier?”

Cleveland Clinic: “Heart Attack Recovery and Cardiac Rehabilitation,” “Exercise and Activity After a Heart Attack.”

National Heart Foundation of New Zealand: “Dealing With Sleep Problems.”

Harvard Medical School: “These Five Habits Can Save Your Heart -- Here’s How.”

Journal of the American College of Cardiology: “Cognitive decline before and after incident coronary events.”

Spirituality in Clinical Practice (American Psychological Association): “The role of gratitude in spiritual well-being in asymptomatic heart failure patients.”

Landscape and Urban Planning: “The benefits of nature experience: improved affect and cognition.”

American College of Cardiology: “Social Support Boosts Recovery after Heart Attack,” “Optimism and Happiness Aid in Heart Disease Prevention.”

National Institute on Aging: “The Emotional Benefits of Exercise – Feel Good With Go4Life.”

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 07, 2021

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.