Image Credit: CJ Anderson

Heart Month Gets a Positive Beat

Adventist Health’s Northwest Region celebrated Heart Month in February with special events, podcasts and information that encouraged heart-healthy habits.

Through its annual Art for the Heart community celebration, Tillamook Regional Medical Center on Oregon’s coast teamed with area artists to hold a monthlong art show. Meanwhile, Walla Walla General Hospital in southeast Washington partnered with local restaurants to put heart-healthy entrees on their February menus during the third annual Dine Out Heart Smart program.

In the Portland, Ore., metropolitan area, the month culminated in A Fair of the Heart on Feb. 28, which offered health talks and screenings, heart-healthy food samples, and giveaways at Adventist Medical Center (AMC).

As a positive spin on heart health, AMC also took a special look at how mental health and a positive attitude impact heart health.

“The mind-body connection is a powerful thing,” explains Stephanie Gallian, an IHC Associates counselor practicing at Adventist Health Medical Group’s Gresham Station clinic in Oregon. “Emotions must come out — and if you don't find healthy ways to release them, the mind will find unhealthy and often physical ways to let that negativity out.”

Fortunately, the mind-body connection works the other way too — with positive behaviors and thoughts — Gallian explains. She notes that many activities that reduce stress and anxiety — like regular exercise and eating a balanced and plant-heavy diet — are also known to positively impact heart health.

Six Ways to Stay Positive

Jaci Cress, director of spiritual care for Adventist Health in Walla Walla, Wash., offers several specific ways people can stay positive — and, in doing so, help their bodies, minds and spirits. Her suggestions include:

  • Writing down things for which you’re grateful;

  • Taking mini sabbaticals — brief periods of rest and relaxation — several times during the day;

  • Walking, outside if possible;

  • Connecting with others — friends, people with shared interests, and groups focused on service and volunteering;

  • Restoring your spirit through music, reading, hobbies and community — like Adventist Health’s PrayerWorks (, a 24/7 virtual prayer community where you can post your prayer requests, concerns and struggles and let others know you’re praying for them too;

  • Letting go of resentment and opening up to forgiveness — “Studies have shown that resentment and an unforgiving spirit can actually raise your blood pressure and lead to other chronic health problems,” Cress explains.

Practicing positivity each day helps people be more prepared to deal with crises in the future. “Get those behaviors firmly established as habits, so you don't have to frantically learn how to do them in the middle of tough times,” Gallian suggests.

Gallian’s advice is beneficial year-round for all healthy habits — not just during Heart Month. That’s why Adventist Health sees every month as another opportunity to share God's love by providing physical, mental and spiritual healing.

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Featured in: April 2016