Beyond eating right and getting exercise, dealing with your stress levels is a crucial component to heart health. Stress can lead to high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, weight gain, overeating and an increase in high-risk behaviors, such as drinking and smoking cigarettes. Those are just some of the things stress can induce that are related to heart-health.
No one is exempt from stress, so we might as well start figuring out how to manage it. None of these tips are new, but they make for an excellent reminder of how we should be taking care of ourselves.
- Move more! Get out and walk for 20 minutes on your lunch break or take a five minute cruise around the office every hour. Can’t leave your office or your desk? There are some great stretches and breathing techniques that calm your body and mind, here. Exercise releases endorphins which make your mind and body feel good and naturally reduce stress. read more about exercise and stress here.
- Sleep more! A properly rested body and mind will be more equipped to deal with the daily ups and downs you face. Every body is different in how much sleep it requires, but on average, adults need 8 hours every night. Instead of burning the midnight oil trying to finish a project, go to bed earlier and let the project wait. Your mind and body will be better-equipped to handle the project after a good night’s sleep. I know how impossible that sounds to some of you, but if you can manage it, it will be worth it.
- Have trouble sleeping? I personally have trouble falling asleep at night and use relaxation techniques to help me hit the hay more smoothly. This is a wonderful article from Women’s Health about sleep and how to get the most out of your night.
- Let it go! Some things are just not worth the energy; find a way to let small things go while still holding sight of the big picture. I like to think , “Will this matter in a week/month/year?” If the answer is no, then it is not worth it and shouldn’t be taking up any of your vital brain space.
- Laugh more! People who laugh often are generally happier and more relaxed. Laughter is the perfect cure for stress. The hormones released when you laugh combat the stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol and epinephrine, and promotes the immune system. So lighten up and check out funny blogs like The Oatmeal or visit YouTube to find the newest funny videos.
- Touch more! Whether you snuggle with a loved one, a pet, or simply start hugging your friends more often, the physical interaction promotes hormones that naturally calm us. If these options are not available or make you uncomfortable, a 30-minute massage will work wonders to reduce your stress!