Executive Director's February 2023 Message

Executive Director Writing

February is heart month, symbolizing the human capacity for LOVE. From a health perspective, we emphasize heart health and encourage all to mitigate risk factors that lead to heart disease. You know the drill--diet, exercise, quit smoking and reduce stress. I remember growing up swimming in lakes and playing in the woods and fields. To this day, my favorite activities include swimming and daily urban walks where I explore our great city. My childhood habits and rituals have brought me joy and kept my blood pressure down and my heart healthy.

As I write this, our country has clocked 39 mass shootings in the first 24 days of 2023. It’s important for us to acknowledge the impact these tragedies have on our collective mental health. Our hearts feel the trauma of gun violence in our communities, and we may even assign our emotions and fears to conflicts we witness closer to home. If you are experiencing anxiety from the recent gun violence or worried about co-worker conflicts, please reach out to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for support.  

Our mental health has just as much impact on our heart health as diet and exercise—maybe even more. Think about what could possibly lead someone to pick up a gun and commit a mass murder shooting. Was it pent up rage? Was it extreme fear? We can build resiliency to help us manage how we react to times of extraordinary stress, anger or fear, so that we are not reaching for a gun to hurt someone, but rather reaching out to heal.

As we celebrate the great contributions of African Americans in our community for Black History Month this February, we are reminded by the tragic loss of Tyre Nichols that we still have a lot of work ahead of us. This year’s theme is Black Resistance, and we can all do our part to uplift and amplify the voices pleading for justice and equity. While it’s important to support black-owned businesses around town, it’s more important that we seek to understand and work to correct the injustices.

Resiliency can be learned and we can practice ways to reduce our stress. Make a list of all the things or activities that bring you joy. Then, invite a friend, especially the ones who seem down or anxious, to try something on your list together. It’s up to all of us to stop this violent trend by spreading joy and kindness.

Be well,

Abbie Yant, RN, MA