Stressed Out: The Impact Stress Has On Your Heart

As Maureen Killoran once said, “Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens. And the response is something we can choose.” This quote perfectly captures the idea that stress is something we can control, which is great news for your heart!

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it’s important to understand the impact it can have on your body, especially your heart. 

The Connection Between Stress and Heart Health

Let’s get one thing clear—stress is not all gloom and doom. Stress is sometimes beneficial— it can provide you with the motivation and alertness you need to accomplish certain tasks such as acing a job interview or completing an important project on time.  It’s when stress lingers and becomes overwhelming that it is of concern because chronic, ongoing stress is what can wreak havoc on your health. 

Chronic stress can be a result of major life events such as family problems, failing relationships, work challenges, financial issues, the loss of a loved one, and so on. When in such a situation, your body produces hormones like adrenaline, and these hormones cause your body, especially your heart, to work overtime. As the stress lingers, your body continues to work hard, which can lead to things like disrupted sleep, persistent aches and pains, low energy levels, and feelings of depression and anxiety. If left unchecked, chronic stress can also affect major organs throughout your body, including your heart. 

On top of that, it’s common for many people to resort to unhealthy habits when trying to cope with chronic stress. These habits, such as excessive drinking and binge eating, further contribute to the harm that stress can have on your health. In particular, many of these harmful habits can impact the way your heart functions and weaken its ability to pump blood throughout your circulatory system. Over time, the weakening of this vital muscle can lead you down a path toward more serious and long-term health conditions. 

Tips To Manage Stress For Your Heart Health

The good news is that there are many tips you can try out to manage stress. Remember, everyone has something that works for them, but you won’t know what that is until you’ve tried it, so let’s look at some effective and heart-protecting stress management tools you can put to the test.  

1. Exercise

Staying physically active is great for helping manage both cholesterol and weight, and it’s also a great tool for relieving stress. So what happens when you exercise? Regular physical activities cause hormones known as endorphins to be released, which give you a feeling of happiness. For added benefit, try exercising outside, where you can also reap the benefits of connecting with nature.

2. Try Relaxation Techniques

Stress is a state of heightened anxiety. The best way to handle it is to simply relax! One of the best ways to relax is meditation, which is a practice of embracing quiet and stillness to help calm and clear your mind. You can also try activities like yoga, which are not only a way to relieve stress, but also a great way to add exercise to your day. These relaxation techniques may only take a few minutes a day, but those few minutes can lead to a difference big enough for you to feel 

3. Do Activities You Enjoy

Fun and enjoyment are relative, and the activities that cause these feelings will vary from person to person. So think about the activities that bring you enjoyment, feel fun, and tend to be the highlight of your day, then make it a point to partake in them. This can include things like spending time with friends or family, listening to music, dancing, reading, crafting, gardening, and so on. When you start prioritizing activities you enjoy, you will likely feel less stressed.  

4. Do Some Journaling

There are so many things that you can put in a journal to help alleviate stress. For example, you can write down things you are grateful for. You can also write down your dreams or the goals you’d like to achieve. You can write about your feelings, the highlights of your day, or your favorite affirmations. No matter what you choose to write about, journaling is a great way to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, and it can help retrain your mind to focus on the positive, both of which are great for managing stress. 

5. Get Some Sleep

When you get a good night’s rest or take a short nap, that rest can help to reduce cortisol levels in your body, thus relieving stress. When you rest, your body can not only relax but also rejuvenate, leaving you ready to face whatever the day brings.  

6. Don’t Be Afraid To Say No

Our constant need to please everyone significantly contributes to stress and poor heart health. You may want to please your boss, a partner, your family, friends, or even the leader of a community group you are part of. All this pressure to “be good enough” or “do it right” can lead to unnecessary stress. You need time and space to relax and take care of yourself, which means that sometimes, you need to put boundaries in place that will help you put yourself first. Learning to say “no” to tasks or invitations that aren’t important to you is a great place to start. 

7. Shutdown the Screens

The world is moving and changing fast, and technology like our TVs, computers, and phones are constantly giving us updates, which can be mentally exhausting. Our brains were not meant to be fed so much information this quickly, so take the time to give them a break. Turn off your TV, silence your phone, shut down your laptops, and spend at least 10 to 15 minutes or more unplugged each day. This will give you time to gather your thoughts, engage in activities you enjoy, and disconnect from the constant bombardment of news and notifications. Trust us, these short breaks will do wonders for you in terms of relieving stress. 

Live the #NewEarthLife

Stress is part of our lives, but it shouldn’t be constantly lingering. Ongoing stress can do a number on your body, especially your heart. That’s why we consider stress management to be a key part of living the #NewEarthLife. So go ahead, find a stress management technique that works for you, and start implementing it into your daily routine. We know you’ll be able to feel a difference.   

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