Just chill out: stress and your heart
In a world of extended workdays, busy family lives, and all of the other things that keep us bustling and always moving, stress is not a stranger to any of us and is a very normal part of life. Stress is the body’s reaction to any type of change that requires a response, and can be experienced in a variety of ways. How much stress you experience and how you choose to react to it however, can be imperative to a healthy heart.
The body can respond to stress a number of ways. Headaches, stomach pains, and back strain can be signs that your body is trying to deal with stress. Stress can also take a toll on your emotional and mental state by draining your energy, shaking up your sleep pattern, and causing forgetfulness. Additionally, increased cholesterol levels and blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and damage to your arteries are common ways that the body can respond to unmanaged stress with negative heart health results. When stress is constantly elevated, the body can stay in this high-strung state for extended periods of time. While the connection between heart disease and chronic stress isn’t entirely clear, research has found that chronic stress can lead people to indulge in activities like overeating, smoking cigarettes, not exercising, or excessive alcohol drinking in the face of stressful situations. All of these things can put them in unhealthy places. That being said, it is beneficial to find and utilize healthy ways to manage stress for the sake of your overall health and especially for your heart.
Take control of stress by getting a handle on your body and mind communication. Pep talk your mind and body into your healthiest self. While stress cannot always be avoided, you can take steps to keep stressful situations at a minimum. Try incorporating tips like these to help keep your stress levels minimal and your heart in its best shape:
- Take care of your body with a regular routine of physical activity that keeps you moving most days and maintain a healthy diet.
- Make sure to get enough sleep to get you through your days.
- Efficiently manage your schedule by prioritizing what needs to get done daily.
- Steer clear of negative “self-talk” and “what-ifs”. Try not to focus on things that are out of your control. Be sure to indulge in positive “self-talk”. Take the time to praise yourself for a job well done. Try to take steps toward a positive outlook and attitude.
- If you’re finding it difficult to manage stress on your own, don’t be afraid to seek help by way of individual or group counseling, support groups, or self-help books.
- Learn relaxation techniques and exercises to use when faced with unexpected stress that incorporate deep breathing or focusing on calming imagery.
While the cause of stress may not always be in your control, the way you choose to react to stressful situations in. Taking the time to learn successful stress management is an invaluable way to not only aid in your heart’s health, but also a wonderful way to build a happy and productive life.
Reprinted on December 13, 2016, courtesy of the Go Newsletter from GlobalFit. For more information, please visit go.globalfit.com.