How Stress Affects Your Heart Health: Stress Reduction Tips You can Use
Whether the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is catching up to you, you have bills piling up, you have just lost a job, or you have a heart condition that needs to be controlled, remember that stress affects your heart health in many ways.
It’s important to identify the stressors in your life and work to reduce or eliminate them for the benefit of not only your heart, but also your mental health and overall quality of life.
How Stress Affects Your Heart
Whether or not stress affects your heart directly is debatable, but stress leads to a variety of behaviors that lead to health problems which could in turn hurt your heart.
When people are under pressure, they may drink more alcohol, overeat, abuse drugs, or smoke cigarettes, which can all be detrimental to your heart. These behaviors can increase heart disease risk as a result of obesity, high blood pressure, and high bad cholesterol levels.
Everyday Stress Reduction Tips
1. Consider reducing coffee intake.
While the research on the effects of coffee/caffeine on your heart is debatable, coffee can cause a brief spike in your blood pressure. It can also stimulate your “flight or fight” response, which is there to protect you but also makes you feel anxiety.
Ask one of our heart doctors if cutting out or reducing caffeine would be helpful for you.
2. Stay active.
Exercise can reduce physical ailments and unhealthy habits that lead to heart problems. It can also improve your mood, all of which can contribute to a reduction in the stress that you may feel.
3. Practice mindfulness techniques.
Living in the moment and appreciating the simple things around you can help you release negative energy. When you focus on the present, you won’t focus on all the stressors in your life.
4. Maintain a healthy diet.
A healthy, balanced diet can improve your gut health and your mental health, as well as give you more energy. Sometimes consuming unhealthy foods or drinks can make us feel physically worse, which adds to the stress that we may already have.
5. Think positive.
Worrying and having negative thoughts only brings you down. Instead, focus on remaining optimistic, which can work wonders for your mood.
In fact, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that people who are more positive may be better protected against the inflammatory damage of stress. Their research showed that even people with a family history of heart disease but who had a positive outlook were less likely to have a heart attack or other heart-related incident than those with a more negative outlook. Positive people from the general population were 13 percent less likely to have a heart attack or other heart-related event.
6. Meditate or practice yoga.
Take a moment to be alone and clear your thoughts. If you have trouble getting in the zone, a variety of helpful apps are available, including Calm and Aura. You might also consider practicing yoga to stretch your muscles and soothe your mind.
7. Walk away from the situation and react with caution.
If something specific is causing you to worry or upsetting you, walk away from the situation. Go into a separate room, or take a walk outside to clear your head and regroup. When you return, you will find yourself in a more positive state of mind to deal with the situation.
8. Eliminate unhealthy behaviors.
As we mentioned above, drinking too much alcohol, overeating, relying on medications that you don’t need, and smoking cigarettes can all lead to increased stress in the long run. Improving your overall health and the way you react to stress triggers can give you additional control over your own body and mind.
Holiday-Related Stress Reduction Tips
1. Learn to say “no.”
During the holidays, we often feel that we must attend every celebration and move mountains to make the holidays just right. Instead, prioritize what you need to do, what you want to do, and what you might consider doing if you have the time.
2. Simplify your parties.
If you’re hosting a party, make it as simple as possible. You don’t need to cook everything from scratch; semi-homemade, store-bought, or even catered meals are just fine. You don’t have to provide each of your guests with extravagant parting gifts, or fully decorate every corner of your home to make the party festive. Your friends and family want to be with you, and the rest is just icing on the cake.
3. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help or delegate responsibilities.
If you feel that you have too much to do, it’s OK to ask your family and friends for help. If anything, when they contribute, they will feel more involved.
4. Look forward to resetting for the new year.
Live for today, but plan for the future. Look forward to all the positive days ahead, and think about a plan of action to improve your overall quality of life.
Be Aware of Other Factors
If you are regularly experiencing heart palpitations or other physical conditions, don’t assume that it’s only stress-related. A variety of health conditions or arterial diseases could cause similar symptoms.
If you are concerned about the health of your heart, make an appointment with one of our cardiologists in Macomb Township, Shelby Township, Roseville, or East China.