5 ways to de-stress for heart health
Stress is unavoidable, however, how you manage it is within your control. Constant stress, whether at work, home, or during your daily commute, has been linked to a plethora of health issues including mood, sleep, appetite issues and even heart disease.
Although there is no proven pathway for the development of heart disease due to chronic stress, we know that stress may influence heart disease in more subtle ways. Stress may lead to some indulging in heart-damaging behaviours, such as eating excessively, increase in sedentary activities, or even smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
Breaking the connection requires both learning to deal with stress and managing unhealthy habits.
These five simple tips can help you do just that.
- Stay positive. Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase "good" HDL cholesterol.
- Meditate. This practice of inward-focused thought and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Meditation's close relatives, yoga and prayer, can also relax the mind and body.
- Exercise. Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only helps you destress, it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintain a healthy weight.
- Unplug. It's impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Cut the cord. Avoid emails and TV news. Take time each day — even if it's for just 10 or 15 minutes — to escape from the world.
- Find ways to destress. Simple things, like a warm bath, listening to music, or spending time on a favorite hobby, can give you a much-needed break from the stressors in your life.
The above is adapted from Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School – Healthbeat: 5 ways to de-stress and help your heart.