The stresses of everyday life can take a toll on your body. Whether it is the demands of work or family life how we respond to stress can have a real negative impact, especially on your heart.
Back in February I wrote an article about managing the stress caused by the pressures and demands of today's life. In addition to using good meditation practices to lower my stress levels, I have actually noticed a positive difference in my general state of health when I am more relaxed and exhibit a more positive attitude. However, while looking through articles and stories online the other day, a really interesting study caught my eye which has brought this specific subject matter back to light, and I think that it is something worth noting.
The study, done by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a division of the National Institutes of Health, found that people who are angry and aggressive, and exhibit higher than normal stress levels, showed a greater thickness of the carotid arteries in the neck, a key risk factor for heart attack or stroke, compared with people who were more easygoing. When it comes to heart health, your disposition definitely matters! The NIA study found that people considered the least agreeable and the most antagonistic had a 40% increased risk for arterial wall thickening. These findings are making the case for taking into consideration patients' personality traits when they are screened for heart disease.
Working to lower my stress levels has only been a big part of my process of improving my overall health, both physical and mental. I also try to make it a point to smile more often and laugh as much as I possibly can (that bit of advice came directly from my cardiologist). Lastly, I noticed a real difference when I am acting pleasantly towards others, which in addition to making situations more comfortable and easier to handle it also leaves me feeling much more positive about myself.
It's time for all of us, especially those with stress issues, to start taking life less seriously. We are all humans and sometimes let the little things, or meaningless situations, get the best of us. I think that many of use try to control situations on a daily basis, and once we realize that control is an illusion and perfectionism a psychological manifestation that only increases stress, depression, and heart disease, the road to improvement is actually fairly easy. Making small positive changes in our attitudes will not only make us better people, but also healthier patients.
Published On: August 26, 2010