Have a joyful heart and mind — even in this uncertain season

Debora Grandison, Go Red for Women Real Woman 2019, shares her advice living with heart disease during the COVID-19 pandemic 

Debora Grandison in red top showing strong muscles

As a heart disease survivor and a woman with diabetes, I’m trying to prevent my racing thoughts and fears of the unknown from overtaking me during the coronavirus pandemic. Staying healthy is my top priority.

But this season of high anxiety strains both my mental and physical health. It’s easy for me, and lots of women, to deprioritize our health for the well-being of others. Partners, spouses, kids, friends and loved ones seem to always come first. 

When we feel stress, it may affect our bodies. Our thoughts play a significant role in how we’re feeling and dealing with the pandemic. I encourage you to keep your health top of mind. Here are a few of my personal tips: 

Limit social interaction. I’m a hugger. So my hardest adjustment to social interactions during COVID-19 is not embracing the people I love. Living with a chronic illness places me at a higher risk for contracting the virus, and people can carry it without showing symptoms. I know I must stay strong — and practice social distancing – because this won’t last forever. 

Call your provider. Once I heard the news, I called my provider as I was concerned that medication and medical supplies such as insulin could be limited. Be proactive to understand steps to take to ensure you have the medications you need. 

Stay connected. Encourage others through social media — but use it wisely. I worry about people who live alone and may feel isolated. Kindness counts. Try to stay informed — not overwhelmed — with the news on your devices. And remember that staying connected for virtual check-ins can make a difference and brighten your day. 

Keep your faith alive. As a woman of faith, I’m leaning into my community now more than ever. I encourage you to reach out to your place of worship to see if services are streamed. 

Sign up for research. Now, more than ever, we need women involved in research to help inform treatment and care for heart disease and stroke patients. You can participate in surveys online on topics such as emotional well-being. Learn more about Research Goes Red here.

Most importantly, take care of your mind. Writing poetry has greatly helped channel my emotions and strengthen my heart I pray that during this difficult season Here’s a poem I recently wrote:


To be healthy is finding balance in the body, soul and mind
removing things that may cause us stress
and can hinder, block or bind.

To see things in a different light and to recognize what's good
To appreciate our blessings and be grateful like we should.

To be conscious of things that bring us joy and letting go of things that hurt
To pay attention to the warning signs and to things that cause alert.

To speak in love not anger and step aside from jealousy
To comfort those enduring pain, providing hope when there's a need.

To exercise our bodies and take good care of all our parts,
To ensure we do all that we can to have strong and heathy hearts.

Staying healthy is much more than just working out and eating right,
It's also being kind and loving others, which is pleasing in God's sight.

We were each created with a purpose and blessed with gifts worth far more than wealth
There's no greater gift to give to ourselves than to prioritize our health!

Poem Copyright © 2016 Debora Grandison. All rights reserved.