A heart attack can be a pretty devastating event. You may be left wondering how to move on with your life. Having a massive heart attack unexpectedly at age 38 had a profound effect on me.
After my heart attack, I could have given up on life and become depressed thinking I had nothing left to live for. I could have succumbed to the thoughts that my world was coming to an end because my heart was unhealthy. I could have told myself that I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t protect my heart.
Instead, I decided to find the good in my experience. As I lay in the intensive care unit, I chose to have a positive outlook on life.
Here are six ways that I brought positivity back into my life after my heart attack.
I started a blog
I had so many questions as I was being treated in the hospital. I knew other people in my situation probably did too, so I wanted to document what was happening to me to help others.
I decided to start a blog to spread awareness about my story. I hoped it would inspire other people to take better care of their bodies. And I hoped it would inspire me to take better care of my own body to support my heart health.
Don’t feel like sharing your story with the world? Don’t want the stress of commitment? Buy a journal and jot down as little or as much as you want about your experience.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings may help you cope with and process a stressful event like a heart attack.
I started psychotherapy
Depression is common after having a heart attack. I had survivor guilt, and I wondered why I lived when so many other people died.
I expressed these thoughts to my cardiologist a few months after my heart attack, and he suggested that I see a psychotherapist.
Depression has ups and downs. Psychotherapy has helped me manage my symptoms and overcome negative thinking.
My psychotherapist is great at listening and helps me to reshape my thoughts and change my behaviors. She helped me realize that there’s a reason I’m here, and that I shouldn’t take my life for granted but soak up every minute. I now have the tools to practice more positive thinking when I'm feeling down.
Not everyone needs to see a psychotherapist, but it’s important to get help if you’re experiencing depression.
I visit my psychotherapist every 3 to 4 weeks. She’s a constant source of support to help keep me positive.
I began collecting heart-shaped things
I loved hearts and heart-shaped things when I was a little girl. My room was decorated in heart-shaped pillows, a heart bedspread, and heart wallpaper!
This passion came flowing back after my heart attack. Now I’ve started collecting heart-shaped knick-knacks all over again. I buy ornaments, pillows, clothes (my favorite!), rugs, and jewelry with hearts.
Surrounding myself with this symbol reminds me how lucky I am to be alive. I’ve been given a second chance at life, and I count my blessings every day.
I surrounded myself with inspirational messages
I hang inspirational quotes on my walls to remind me of how lucky I am. Reading these words lifts me up whenever I’m feeling down.
I’ve even been known to use an inspirational message as my password on my work computer! Reciting it first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day.
I practiced patience
My doctor told me that I needed to relax and get rid of stresses in my life for my heart. For me, that meant learning to practice patience.
I no longer get angry or stressed when I’m stuck in traffic (which by the way is all too often). The backlog could be due to an accident, and that could mean that someone else’s day is a lot worse than mine. Instead, I count my blessings and say a prayer.
I even try not to get impatient in a long line at the grocery store. You might be waiting because someone’s paying with food stamps or struggling to save money with coupons.
You just never know what another person’s going through, so try to be patient. I remind myself that I’m blessed to be alive.
Changing these thought processes has helped me to become much more patient since my heart attack. My stress level has dropped tremendously.
I gave back to my community
I volunteer with the American Heart Association. I enjoy giving back to an organization that does so much good for other people with heart disease.
Every year since my heart attack, I’ve worked tirelessly to raise money for the local AHA heart walk in my area. This year, I raised over $5,000 from friends, coworkers, family, and colleagues.
Volunteer for any cause that’s important to you. You’ll feel good about doing something for your community, and it just may help you be more positive.
My heart attack gave me a completely new perspective on life. I have a newfound compassion for people, and I’m a better person overall. Being more positive makes me feel great — even on the bad days.
For more information on how to manage heart disease, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-US-NP-00640 MAY 2020