Lower Stress, Increase Heart Health

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The effects of excessive stress are pretty well known by now, if not because of mainstream news, then because you have had personal experience with stress and physical health.  A little stress is normal, and can even be a great tool for getting things done. It can be motivating, and is innately hardwired in our brains to spur quick response and action. But when we let stress go too far, our bodies take the heat. Stress has a particularly negative effect on cardiovascular health. It causes heart rate to go up, as well as blood pressure, and can even trigger an increase in cholesterol and triglyceride levels. With all this in mind, we have to find ways to manage stress amidst busy, non-stop lives and work struggles, relationship woes, and financial difficulty. Here are some ideas:

Be Social

The proof is in the pudding, or research! Making time for social activities and friendships has been shown to increase mental wellbeing and decrease levels of stress hormones. So have a guys/girls night out. Grab lunch with a pal. Or call up a close friend to chat about the day. Your heart will thank you.

Relaaaaax

It seems simple enough, but setting aside a chunk of time for relaxation can produce big health benefits, particularly when it comes to stress management. Meditation and deep breathing may even reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and at the same time increase the strength of your immune system. So even if it is only for 10 minutes, make time to breath.

Think Good Thoughts

The mind holds a lot of power over the body, simply because emotional responses trigger physical ones. According to some studies, people with type A personalities who harbor more anger/intensity than others are at a much higher risk for heart disease. That need to be in control, and the frustration that ensues when you aren’t, causes your stress response to spike. So think positive. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And be nice – for the sake of your cardiovascular wellness.

 

*Disclaimer: Always consult your physician or other health care professional before seeking treatment or taking related advice herein.*

Story Credit: 12 Ways to Fight Stress and Help Your Heart by Amanda Gardner

Photo Credit: human.heart.tumblr_m17i2byOkE1qjyasqo1_500 by Beth Scupham. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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