We know for certain that stress and heart disease are related; however, it’s uncertain if stress is a risk factor for heart disease on its own, or if stress increases other risk factors by the existence of high levels of adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. Either way, it is beneficial to our heart health to manage the stress in our lives.
How do you know if you’re stressed?
Your body may show physical signs of stress. You may have tense shoulders, excessive fatigue, headaches or indigestion.
You may have mental signs of stress, such as being forgetful, unable to concentrate, experiencing brain fog and a poor memory.
You also may be short and snappy with the people around you, highly critical, portraying a negative attitude, and less humorous and fun.
How do I minimize stress?
The most important thing is to manage the stressors in your life. Perhaps work has been difficult or you’re not getting along with your spouse. It’s important to manage these situations to alleviate the physical and mental impact stress has on you over time. If you need to set boundaries at work, reconcile with your partner, get control over your finances, or whatever other circumstance, make the changes necessary to get control over these situations.
Exercise regularly, even if that means taking a brisk walk for a few minutes a day or working out with a video on YouTube. The endorphins from exercise will improve your mood and aid with relaxation.
Live by your values. Feel good about yourself by identifying the values you choose to live by, and then live by them. Knowing what you will and won’t do in any given situation alleviates a lot of decision-making stress and allows you to be the person you want to be.
Take care of your heart by managing your stress.
If you’re in need of additional support, your EAP can help. Call your BHS Care Coordinator at 800-245-1150.