Five Ways to Lower Your Stress Levels & Improve Your Heart Health
We have discussed the concept of stress and cardiovascular disease before and it has been largely concluded that it is not only the presence of stress, but rather how we handle stress that leads to health problems including cardiovascular disease. However, it is unreasonable to think that whenever stress comes our way, whether it be work-, family- or health-related, that we can always deal with it appropriately and not let it affect our health. Unfortunately, there are circumstances in which stress will overwhelm us and increase our risk for any number of cardiovascular diseases.
In this post, we discuss five ways that you can easily reduce the effects of stress on your body and heart…
Exercise. Patients need to get enough exercise each day. A half hour or more can significantly reduce the risk of stressing in the first place but may also reduce the effects of stressful situations if and when they do arise. Exercise releases endorphins, which not only improve our mood, but make us less susceptible stressful situations. Don’t think that exercise requires going to the gym or a great deal of mental effort. We are talking about a half hour walk each day, getting longer or brisker each time you go out. This is, of course, to be done within your physical limits, but try to push yourself just a little bit harder each day.
Relaxation. Techniques including meditation and stretching are also ways to improve your sleep. Stretching and meditation before bed can calm the mind and let some of the stress of the day melt away. There are dozens of YouTube channels dedicated to meditation. Meditation apps have also popped up over the past few years and some may be free courtesy of your insurance or credit card company. You may find it hard to relax, at first, when listening to guided meditation, but keep at it and you will quickly find that it improves your stress levels.
Eating better. Stimulants such as caffeine and sugar can make us more jittery and susceptible to stress. Similarly, some of the effects of alcohol – while relaxing in the short term – may also have longer-term stressful effects. Being generally healthier, losing weight and feeling better can assist managing stress. When you next speak to your primary care physician or cardiologist, speak to them about your vitamin levels. Some vitamin deficiencies including vitamin D3 can significantly affect mood.
Understanding your triggers. One of the keys to managing stress is knowing that it’s there or on its way. You know better than anyone what stresses you out but speaking to your loved ones or anyone that lives with you about their observations can help determine when and how stress begins to become unmanageable. Once you have identified stressful triggers, you can implement strategies to mitigate it.
Get enough sleep. Millions of Americans are chronically deprived of sleep and the situation is only getting worse. With hectic lives and overfilled schedules, it can feel downright impossible to go to bed when we should and get enough sleep. While some think of sleep aids and alcohol as a remedy, they can actually make long-term sleep patterns worse and more difficult to improve later. Instead, take a moment to set a bedtime/wakeup schedule, avoid stimulants both digestive and electronic before bed and always be sure to get enough sleep. Seven to eight hours a day without fail.