How does stress affect your heart?
Unmanaged stress can cause:
· High blood pressure
· Irregular heart rhythms
· Damage to our arteries
· The development and progression of coronary artery disease
· Weakened immune system
Learning to unwind
If you have a heart condition, the key to managing your stress is to understand what makes you feel anxious. Without a doubt, learning to deal with stress is a challenge for most. So, what steps can you take?
a) Practical methods:
- Take note of situations which cause you to feel stressed or anxious and try to avoid them
- Schedule your time using a calendar and to-do lists, so that you can prioritize your activities
- Learn how to say no to requests that you don’t have time for
- Rethink your goals if they seem unrealistic. Remember, you can’t do everything – and that’s okay!
- Learn to accept that some problems are out of your control; worrying simply won’t make the situation better
b) Physical well-being:
- Go outdoors regularly - breaking from your normal routine, and adding a little sunshine and fresh air can immediately reduce stress levels
- Take time out each day to relax - consider going for a walk, swimming or taking a yoga class. Remember, exercise is one of the best ways to beat stress
- Take care of yourself - eating a healthy, balanced diet will do wonders for your stress levels, helping you to feel more rational in difficult situations
- Get enough sleep – lack of sleep is a big contributor to how we feel and react
- Take a stress-break, you could try:
- Deep breathing - releases muscle tension, helps control breathing, and reduce stress levels
- Focused imagery – in a quite place, close your eyes and think about something which makes you feel relaxed, maybe it’s a beautiful sandy beach, or fishing on your favorite lake – what are the sounds/smells? How does it look? When stressful situations arise you will be able to bring this image alive to help you relax!