Emotional Heart Health Through the Art of Self-Care

Author: Kim Medis, RN, BSN

We often think of our bodies as a separate part of ourselves, physically detached from our minds, emotions, and spirits. Even if we say that we don’t believe this, we can act as if it were true. We exist as if these parts of ourselves either don’t have as much value as another part, or that they are kept in separate compartments, untouched and unconnected.

Research now shows that the mind, emotions, spirit, and body are intricately connected and do indeed affect each other. Let’s look at stress and attitude and discuss some of the implications they have on our health.

Articles from the Universities of Minnesota and Rochester Medical Center state that stress elevates cortisol levels, which increases cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Even if it is minor, stress can also lead to arterial plaque buildup and clotting issues. It can trigger heart problems like poor blood flow, which prohibits sufficient blood and oxygen to the heart. All of these increase our risk for heart disease and stroke.

People who have a lot of stress often choose unhealthy ways to cope like smoking, drinking, or binge eating, each of which are root causes of other serious health issues.

Common manifestations of stress include bodily aches and pains, decreased energy and sleep, heightened anxiety, anger, depression, impatience and forgetfulness.

Negative feelings and attitudes of helplessness or hopelessness are also culprits in creating stress. These feelings lead to hormone depletion and immune system deterioration… You can literally shorten your life by succumbing to negativity!

Choose to live a long life by learning about the benefits of self-care. Yes, it’s a trending topic today, and everyone has recommendations; but many of them can be repetitive. Or boring, maybe? Or cliche — I just don’t often see them reaching the core of the inner person and bringing palpable relief.

I want to share a book that I believe can help you develop a profound personal self-care routine.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The premise behind Cameron’s teachings is that creativity is a part of each person’s true nature. And the blossoming of our creativity is integral in developing our emotional health and spiritual growth.

She has two essential tools that she advises readers to employ, Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates.

Morning Pages

Morning Pages are a daily writing ritual completed upon arising from sleep. They are three Pages written in longhand without stopping, an unedited stream of consciousness.

Cameron states that this is a form of active meditation, a brain and emotion outflow of longhand writing that clears the mind of all its clutter. It allows for a written release of the anxiousness in our mental and spiritual background. By taking the chance to vent, moan, or gripe will allow you to feel catharsis.

Through Morning Pages, we can create intimacy with ourselves and discover a road inward to our inner child.

Morning Pages are a form of prayer, creating presence, and can bring us closer to our subconscious, impulsive self.

They bring our dreams, hopes, disappointments, and pains to the forefront. Our lost self resurfaces with new ideas that free us from stagnation. They create optimism.

Artist’s Dates

Artist’s Dates are a solo undertaking to explore something that interests or excites us. Cameron stresses that we must do this alone. If not, the focus moves away from ourselves. We become conscious of the other person who accompanies us, and anything we might have received is stifled.

Artist’s Dates are a form of play and self-care. They’re inspirational and can create new vocations, hobbies, and interests.

They’re a form of active meditation in which we can learn to cherish and enjoy solitude. We can make peace with our past. I’ve noticed some genuine benefits since starting these two practices for myself.

Morning Pages has allowed me to unload and process worries, mistakes, fears, and concerns that go through my mind and experience a substantial release.

Artist’s Dates have been inspiring and have revealed new avenues of interest that I wouldn’t have explored before. Through this and other work, my husband and I decided to start a podcast and blog to encourage people and families with any struggles they may be having. It’s been incredibly fulfilling.

Check out Julia Cameron’s book and workbooks. They’re filled with anecdotes to encourage you to give the Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates a try. It could be life-changing!

List of Artist’s Dates ideas: https://theartistswayblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/101-art- ists-date-ideas/

  1. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-do-thoughts-and- emotions-affect-health#:~:text=Negative%20attitudes%20and%20feelings%20of,can%20actually%20decrease%20our% 20lifespan.
  2. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?Cont- entTypeID=1&ContentID=2171 The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron