Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Everyday situations like traffic jams, getting to work on time, or a test can be immensely stressful to some people. But chronic stress can wreak havoc on your heart health and overall well-being. We’ve talked about the dangers of chronic stress in the workplace in a previous blog post. It can affect your mood, appetite, sleep cycles, and long-term heart health. It can also cause you to take up unhealthy behaviours like binge-drinking, smoking, and eating calorie-dense foods. Working individuals are not the only victims of chronic stress. Caregivers also experience high levels of stress due to the 24-hour nature of their jobs. So while it may be difficult to control the source of stressful situations, you can minimize the impact that stress has on us. Below are some tips to help you manage your stress levels:
- Don’t underestimate the power of exercise! Regular physical activity lowers the release of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, and promotes the release of endorphins, which are ‘feel-good’ chemicals. If you’re looking to start working out, read more about low-impact exercises you can carry out. Find out more about the positive effects of exercise on heart health here.
- Consider practicing yoga. The benefits of yoga as a stress reliever have been well-documented in research studies. The meditation and breathing techniques in yoga also help in lowering blood pressure and reducing cortisol levels. Read more about the heart-healthy impacts of yoga here.
- Start getting better sleep. Try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Stress may make it difficult for you to get a good night’s rest. To prevent insomnia, here are a few tips you can follow: ensure you keep your room completely dark, limit your screen time 1-2 hours before your bedtime, and avoid having heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine at night and just before bed.
- Listen to music. Believe it or not, listening to some types of music can actually have a therapeutic effect. It can help lower blood pressure, cortisol levels, and heart rate. Plus it’s an enjoyable way to relax and de-stress after a long day.
- Maintain your social connections. Spending time with your friends and family can do wonders for your mental and physical health. It’s always great to have a support system when you face stressful situations. They can lend a sympathetic ear for you to voice your problems.
- Find time for your own stress-busting interests. You should take some out during the day or week for things you enjoy. Whether it is knitting, baking, gardening, doing an online course, or even watching a movie, it is important to engage in activities that help uplift your mood.
- Slow down and get organized. With the busy lifestyles many of us lead, it may be overwhelming to deal with the large number of tasks and errands to complete. Creating to-do lists and making use of calendars and daily planners can help in easing your worries.
Stress can have detrimental impacts on your heart health, so do ensure you take time out for yourself before stress severely affects your quality of life. Start following these simple tips, and don’t take it easy with your or your family’s heart health!
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