How much do we rely on our heart? Lucy Eden, the founder of Be In Your Element, organisers of corporate wellbeing events, explores the role of the heart and emotions in decision making, very apt as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of World Heart Day on 29 September.
We all know how important a healthy heart is in regards to our bodily function, as the muscle at the centre of our circulation system, pumping blood around our body as our heart beats. But does it stop there with how much we utilise it? Do we really understand how much we need it, use it and make decisions based on it?
Contrary to what is generally believed, all decisions are in fact informed by emotion and our heart experiences emotions with a change in heartbeat, even physical pain. New research into the brain’s action pathways, utilising FMRI scanning, has helped us understand how emotion translates into action, and how emotions drive more than 80 percent of our decision-making, while logic makes up the rest.
Looking after our heart is not only crucial for our physical health, but also for our mental and emotional health too. And what we feel in our hearts can have a ripple effect to how we make others feel, how we connect with others, ourselves and with nature.
10 years ago, world leaders committed to reducing global mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25% by 2025. They created World Heart Day as a platform for the cardiovascular disease (CVD) community to unite in the fight against CVD. Bringing awareness to the importance of a healthy heart and how changes, however big or small, can make a big difference to your heart and to the hearts of those around you.
Where to start for a healthy heart? How about jumping off the tube a stop or two earlier and walking the rest of the way into the office? Working from home? How about taking a walk around the block on your lunch break, or better still out in nature and connect two hearts and hug a tree.
Have a day of brainstorming or networking as a business or a team? Why not turn that into ‘net-walking’ or ‘brain-stomping’ Moving your body and having exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it also contributes to your physical wellbeing, by reducing your heart rate and muscle tension.
How is your heart part of your decision making?
How to make my heart play its part? Your heart is already doing most of the work without you thinking about it, making emotional decisions is natural, and I am sure we can all relate to when bad decisions have been made based on stress, frustration and anger, and how good decisions are often made from emotional connection, with what ‘felt’ right. Out of the two, which one for you always ends up as the best decision you’ve ever made?
Imagine how much your heart could play its part if we all leaned into that knowledge more. If we took a few breathes before making a decision led by an angry heart. If we acknowledged how we ‘felt’ with a person or a situation and acted on feelings of compassion and kindness instead of trying to understand it logically. When dealing with others, you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but emotion, and it’s contagious too! Connecting to your happy heart transfers to those around you too.
So let your heart play its part .…and today is a great day to start!
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