If you’re experiencing constant stress from work, relationships, home life, school, or health issues, you could experience a number of negative side effects. Stress can have an effect on the body and lead to sickness. If you’re overwhelmed with stress, you may find that you’re eating and sleeping habits have changed. Stress can also lead to heart disease. Physicians aren’t exactly sure how extreme stress affects your heart.
However, studies have shown that stress can bring on inflammation, and inflammation is a factor that can possibly lead to heart disease, although this has not been officially proven.
Dr. Deepak Bhatt, the director for the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program for Brigham and Women’s Hospital, states that most medical professionals agree that stress is bad for the heart. However, Dr. Bhatt asserts that the data surrounding this principle still needs to be explored more.
How are Behaviors Linked to Stress?
Stress can influence heart conditions in ways you may not notice. Dr. Bhatt shares that stress causes people to engage in behaviors that increase the risk of heart disease. For instance, when you’re experiencing stress, you may tend to eat foods that are high in sugar and fat. Stress also depletes your energy, which means you may not have the strength or motivation to exercise. Feelings of de-stress also cause some people to drink and smoke, which increases the chances of heart disease.
Learning to deal with stress in a healthy way is important and can affect your health both now and in the future. Here are five important tips to help lower your stress levels and keep your health intact.
1. Maintain a Positive Attitude
If you find that you’re stressed more than normal, it’s important to find time to laugh. Laughter can naturally lower the stress hormones in the body and increase HDL or “good” cholesterol in the body. Laughing often can also reduce arterial inflammation, which can keep you from having heart disease and circulatory issues.
When you meditate, you focus on your thoughts and deep breathing. This practice has been known to reduce the risk of certain serious health conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease. It’s important to find healthy ways to relax the mind and body so you can keep stress at bay, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. In addition to meditation, you can also practice yoga before or after meditating. Prayer is very similar to meditation and can keep you from experiencing the anxiety that often comes with stress.
3. Work Out
The more you are physically active, the better you’ll feel physically and mentally. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are chemicals that boost the function of the brain. Working out also helps you manage your weight and lowers your chances of hypertension and heart disease by strengthening your heart, which is a muscle.
For most of us, technology is a huge part of our lives. This makes it difficult for you to get away from certain stressors, so you’ll have to make the conscious decision to unplug from your devices. If work emails are overwhelming, you may want to set your phone to ‘do not disturb’ so you can focus on other things without getting constant notifications. If the information you’re getting from the news is causing you de-stress, turn off the TV for a while.
While you may not be able to do this for long periods every day, taking some time to escape from the stresses of the world by doing some fun activity. For example, choosing an online course to learn hypnosis can improve your mental health and keep your stress levels down.
5. Customize Your De-stress Routine
It’s important to find ways to lower your stress levels that are specific to who you are. Do small things that make you happy like listening to your favorite music, engaging in a hobby you enjoy, taking a bubble bath, or reading a book by your favorite author. These activities remind you that you deserve to take a break every now and then, and sends a message to your subconscious mind that your mental and emotional well-being is important.
It’s important to include these techniques for lowering stress in your daily routine. Some days, a meditation session may be what you need to lift your mood. Other days, you may benefit more from an intense workout session. Pay attention to your body and mind so you’ll know which activities will help you feel your best.