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Kind Mind, Happy Heart

Good morning, this is your Wellness Wake Up Call with Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition and wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties.

Today’s topic is “Kind Mind, Happy Heart: what you can do to boost your mood and protect your heart”.

In a study from the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers investigated the effects of a seven-day kindness activities intervention on changes in happiness. The people in this study were instructed to carry out acts of kindness during a seven-day period and the researchers measured ‘happiness’ of each person before and after the intervention. The study revealed that being kind to oneself, a friend or stranger and even witnessing acts of kindness boosted levels of happiness. There was also a positive correlation between the number of kind acts performed and the level of happiness reported.

Let’s strive to be the person that fosters kindness in others. We can’t force other people to be kind but we can influence others with our own kind acts and generosity.  Kindness has many forms but the purest requires no pay-back. How do you show kindness to yourself, your family and even strangers that you meet?

This week, challenge yourself to a 7-day Kindness Intervention: do one small, kind thing each day for someone. At the end of the week, pay attention to the impact it’s had on you, both physically and mentally.

Here are 7 Random Acts of Kindness to try in the week ahead:

  1. Shovel a driveway or sidewalk for a neighbor
  2. Send anonymous flowers to brighten someone’s day
  3. Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru line
  4. Offer to help someone who seems to be struggling
  5. “Drop-and-dash”- leave a goodie bag and a heartfelt note on someone’s doorstep
  6. Bring food to an animal shelter
  7. Leave a positive review online for a business or restaurant that provided good service

There is no better time to spread the love and sprinkle kindness in the world around you. February is not only home to Valentine’s Day but it’s also American Heart Month. Start by showing yourself some love and figure out what you need to be well (in spirit, mind and body). When we take care of ourselves first, we can fully be there for someone else. Improving your mental and emotional state will positively impact your physical wellbeing.
In addition to a kind mind, food choices can improve your heart health and help manage conditions like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. While heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Illinois, 80% of cases are preventable!

This February join the Illinois Extension nutrition & wellness team as we launch a unique four-part webinar series dedicated to helping you prevent and manage heart disease. Each 30-minute class will explore key nutrients for improving heart health, followed by a live food demonstration of a heart healthy meal.

These webinars will take place on Thursdays from 11:00-11:30am from February 18th-March 11th.

February 18| Get the Scoop on Sodium
Do you or someone you care for have high blood pressure? Have you been told to “cut back on sodium”? Join us for this webinar and learn what sodium is and how to identify high-sodium foods.  Along with our research-based education, we will be cooking live!  Watch us prepare an easy recipe that can help you cut back on sodium.  After, stay on for Q&A.  Please join us and “get the scoop on sodium”.

February 25 | Facts on Facts
Fats provide body fuel, help absorb some nutrients, and add flavors to foods. In this session, we will discuss types of fats and their roles in heart health and explore ways to adapt recipes to be lower in fat or use more heart-healthy fats.

March 04 | Focus on Fiber
Focus on fiber to fight disease! We can all benefit from incorporating more fiber-rich foods into our diet, but most Americans are missing the mark. Not only does a high-fiber diet promote heart health, it also supports a healthy gut microbiome and reduces your risk for diabetes. This session will cover the different types of fiber, the best sources and simple ways to make your meals and snacks fiber rich.

March 11| Life is Sweet: Eat Smart for Your Heartbeat
Sugar is so delectably good, undeniably satisfying, and lusciously sweet. However, when it comes to health, sugar has a bittersweet reputation. Learn how to identify added and natural sugars in your diet, increase your knowledge of the nutrition facts label, and gain helpful tips in limiting added sugar to keep your heart beating strong.

For more information and to register for this free heart-health series, visit go.illinois.edu/healthybeats

This has been Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition & wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties.

Kristin Bogdonas believes that everyone deserves access to fresh, affordable food and is committed to helping people improve their health literacy. In this digital age it can be difficult to decipher what nutrition information is accurate and what is hype. Connecting people with factual information and evidenced-based programs will help people build the skills and attain the knowledge necessary for positive behavior change. Although nutrition is important for a long and healthy life, one should not overlook the other dimensions of health required for overall wellbeing; physical, mental, emotional, vocational, spiritual, environmental and social. Each dimension impacting the next.