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Rebuilding Confidence after a Heart Attack

A heart attack can knock you not only physically, but psychologically too. 68% of people affected by heart attacks say that their emotional and mental wellbeing were negatively affected by their experience. It is important to understand the need for changes as you begin to navigate your new normal. Heart attacks in and of itself can make one feel physically, mentally and emotionally vulnerable, and so it is advised and of great value to create intentional support systems in your life that welcome you back into a sense of safety, validate and recognise the extent of your experience and which support you in rebuilding confidence after a heart attack. In a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), it was found that it is not uncommon to experience varying levels of depression and anxiety after a near death experience, particularly related to cardiovascular disease. Men, while recorded to be more resilient in dealing with their heart attack, are more likely to be affected by a drop in self-esteem (NCBI, 2016). The list below represents a selection of Self-care management actions and behaviours that can be adopted and implemented to support the rebuilding of confidence and physical strength - both of which assist in improved management of treatment of the present heart condition and in preventing the occurrence of a second heart attack. How to rebuild confience after a heart attack: 1. Identify friends, family and professionals that can offer you support Not everyone will be able to hold the necessary space for you to talk about your experience in a way that supports your healing and recovery. Identify and create a support network that allows you to talk about your experience without having any judgement. Seek out family, friends or professionals that validate your feelings and who are able to listen to you without trying to ‘save’ or fix you. If individual counselling is financially out of reach, find group therapy spaces or online groups that support individuals that have gone through the same or similar experiences. This also allows you to have a dedicated space and to schedule time to talk about your health and health setbacks, without letting this topic dominate all of your conversations with family and friends. 2. Allow yourself to set goals Set goals that are realistic and achievable. Goals that are related to your physical or cardiac health are always good. You could even take on new hobbies or start a new project. While being a beginner at anything can feel uncomfortable at first, it is an opportunity to show yourself that you are still able to accomplish new things, allowing yourself to learn and grow from any mistakes you make, which according to Harvard, is an important step in increasing self confidence. 3. Take time to reflect on your progress Acknowledge your progress, whether it is physical, mental or emotional. Invite your mind to focus how far you have come and not how far you still have to go. 4. Stimulate your mind Keep your mind busy. You can read stories with positive outcomes of people who have gone through a similar experience to you. Your new hobbies and projects will additionally assist in stimulating your mind. 5. Practice compassion towards yourself It is not uncommon to feel scared, anxious, depressed, tearful, low or confused. You may even feel isolated, as if no-one understands and have trouble slotting back into social circles that you once connected with effortlessly. Remember to practice compassion with yourself. Instead of trying to rush your healing and recovery process, rather welcome yourself to be aware of your most current needs. By tending to what you need right now, you speed up the process of healing and recovery and additionally give yourself permission to be seen, heard and valued. 6. Cardiac Rehabilitation Cardiac Rehab is made up of a selection of physical activity, educational resources about your condition and offers emotional support to patients affected by heart diseases. It supports you in making the necessary changes in diet and lifestyle so lower your risk of a second heart attack or of being readmitted to hospital, and has been found to significantly improve ones quality of life. Cardiac Rehab is a vital and important part of long term, sustainable recovery.



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