Lower Stress To Prevent Heart Disease
Lower Stress To Prevent Heart Disease
Why is it important to lower my stress level?
Stress is the way we all react to change. It includes our mental, emotional, and physical responses to the pressures of everyday life. Change is a natural and normal part of life, and therefore a moderate amount of stress is part of normal living. However, how we choose to control and manage our stress determines whether it has a positive or negative effect on us.
Stress can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Acute stress is a "fight-or-flight" reaction to an immediate threat. Triggers of acute stress include crowds, noise, and dangerous situations. Chronic stress requires you to suppress your natural "fight-or-flight" reaction over hours, days, or even years. Chronic stress triggers include demanding jobs, family problems, marital problems, money worries, or feelings of inadequacy or loneliness.
How your body reacts to acute stress
Stress can be both good and bad
The acute stress reaction is important to protect your body and improve your performance. For example, your stress reaction helps you maneuver through a dangerous traffic situation or play well in the championship game. However, chronic stress can have a harmful effect on your body.
The parts of your body that react to stress can become chronically over- or underactivated, leading to physical or psychological damage. Circumstances that can cause such damage include:
Physical damage caused by stress
Stress can negatively affect your heart in many ways.
Stress may also cause or worsen sleep, concentration, and/or stomach problems; headaches; and back and neck pain.
Psychological damage caused by stress
Stress is associated with depression and anxiety disorders and can reduce the amount of pleasure you get out of life. Chronic stress can numb you to feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. Eventually, this numbness could have a negative impact on your work and your relationships.
People suffering from stress sometimes turn to unhealthy habits to deal with their stress. For instance, many people eat when they are stressed out, which can mean that they eat too much or eat unhealthy foods. Some people react to stress by leading sedentary lifestyles or doing passive activities, such as watching television. Other people abuse caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs to escape their stress. All of these methods of dealing with chronic stress are extremely unhealthy and can cause serious health problems, which may lead to even further stress.
You may be feeling stress if you have one or more of the following symptoms.
How can I lower my stress level?
Luckily, there are several steps you can take to help reduce your stress level. Doing so will have a positive impact on your health and your life.
No single method of "stress-busting" works for everybody. You may need to experiment with several different methods to find one that works for you. You may need to combine a few methods to get the best results.
When you find one or more methods that work for you, your mission is not yet accomplished. You also will need to change the situation that is causing you stress, if you can, or perhaps change your reaction to that situation.
Cognitive-behavioral methods can be the best way to lower your stress level.
Think of solutions for dealing with your stress triggers. These solutions include both ways to prevent stressful situations from happening as well as alternative reactions to them.
Add stress-busting activities to your day
You need to shift your focus onto stress-reducing activities as opposed to stress-producing activities. One study about stress showed that adding enjoyable activities to your day can help you even more than eliminating or dealing with your stress triggers. Even small changes can have big effects on your stress level.
Set aside some time for yourself each day to do something you find relaxing. The more of these types of activities you work into your daily life, the more your stress level is likely to improve. The following are examples of stress-reducing, enjoyable activities.
Other tips for managing stress
Also see information on:
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Find out what women really need.