CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- PURPOSE: Managing the stress around you for the good of your heart. Emotional stress occurs when people consider situations difficult or unable to manage and the body has a physical reaction to these triggers. What one person perceives as stressful another may not. Brief periods of stress are usually of little or no consequence. Chronic bouts of stress - one event followed by another and another - can wreak havoc with your health. In fact, health professionals consider stress a risk factor for heart disease. High levels of stress make risk factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure worse and expose your body to unhealthy, persistently elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Studies also link stress to changes in the way blood clots, which increases the risk of heart attack.
GOAL: Coping with the inevitable stressors we encounter. Finding ways to control and to reduce tension that occurs in stressful situations by making emotional and physical adjustments is a significant part of better health. Stress undermines your immune system. The degree and frequency of stress and the desire to make the changes will determine the extent to which your body is physically affected. Studies show that voluntary physical activity may prevent stress-induced suppression of the immune system, thereby reducing the increased susceptibility and severity of infectious disease caused by stress.
Target area: The mind-body connection
Spend 30 minutes a day exercising and 10 minutes in purposeful relaxation. Stressors will rear their ugly heads daily, but you don't have to respond to them in negative ways. Adopt a daily practice to exercise and de-stress with "alone time" to alleviate the pressures of life.
All physical activity will help reduce tension. Get your body moving, and you will release endorphins (anti-stress hormones). The following are great examples that are conducive to the management of stress: swimming - it's quiet and allows you to go inside yourself; walking - can be solitary in any pleasant setting you choose; yoga - focuses on relaxation, deep breathing and connection of the mind and body; karate - a practice dedicated to self-control; massage - a licensed massage therapist can help to relieve muscular stress throughout your body. It is one of the oldest, simplest forms of physical therapy that helps the body heal itself and increases a feeling of well being.
Physical activity can defuse stressors. However, when exercise is not enough, there are professionals, such as licensed social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, who can offer help. Schedule time with one of these professionals to learn stress management strategies, including relaxation techniques. They can connect you with groups that can provide important social support.
NEVER MANAGING STRESS