The Link Between Stress Management and Heart Health
We all know that stress has played an important role in our lives ever since the earliest days of humankind. Indeed, as a survival tool, stress was instrumental in keeping our cave dwelling forbearers alert and alive in a dangerous world. That being said, however, while the need to flee a rampaging saber tooth tiger has diminished over the millenniums, modern day life has its own set of unique stressors. In fact, a strong argument can be made that these stressors are more insidious owing to their pervasive nature, and it becomes difficult to know when to shut the stress off. It is important to know when to recognize the signs and manage your stress before it gets out of hand.
Stress and the Heart
Stress has two notable effects on heart health that can best be described as physiological on the one hand and behavioral on the other. The body’s response to a stressful situation is to release an adrenaline surge that revs up the “fight or flight” response that causes your heart rate to accelerate and your blood pressure to rise. When stress is unremitting, say owing to workplace or financial stresses, your body never gets a chance to shut down and relax, which poses a long-term threat to your heart health.
The behavioral front presents a more complicated problem. People react to stressful situations in different ways, and not all of our “go-to” coping mechanisms are conducive to staying heart healthy. For instance, if your response to chronic stress is to binge eat, chain smoke or drink excessively, these habits can all have detrimental impacts on your heart health. Studies show that high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even heart disease can all result from these behaviors induced by stress. The key is discovering heart-healthy coping mechanisms that do not put your heart health at risk.
Signs of Stress in Your Life
As mentioned, modern stress manifests itself differently from our prehistoric past, so the signs of ongoing stress might be difficult to discern. Rather than a burst of energy designed to remove us out of harm’s way from predators, modern low-key stress can easily be ignored until there is a real physical cost to your heart health. Since the signs are incremental, you need to remain aware of its presence. Indeed, if you notice any of the following behaviors, their presence could easily be explained by stress.
- Eating to remain calm
- Working too much
- Speaking and talking fast
- Too much sleep
- Slowing down without accomplishing anything
It is hard to change the world around you, so the best approach is to change how you react to the world’s stresses. That being said, you can change how you respond to these forces in a way that works for your situation. Obviously, the things that make us feel generally healthy are also good for combating stress. Such things as getting enough sleep and eating healthy can alleviate stress while reducing the risks of falling into depression. Other excellent coping mechanisms include physical activity and relaxation techniques such as meditation designed to relax the mind and build up your physical ability to fight illness and depression. Finally, learning to manage your time removes the stress of a looming deadline while providing you the time you need to nurture yourself and wellbeing.
For more information about stress management and heart heath, please visit our website at www.cvgcares.com.