Stress Can Ruin Your Heart
Stress can physically damage your heart muscle.
Stress damages your heart because stress hormones increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels. This forces your heart to work harder, and increases your blood pressure.
According to the American Institute of Stress, the incidence rate of heart attacks and sudden death increases after major stress inducing incidents, like hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.
In the ancient days of hunter-gatherers, harsh conditions forced people to eat as much as possible when food was available in order to store up for lean times.
That compulsion lives on inside us, and comes out when we are stressed.
Researchers at the University of Miami found that when people find themselves in stressful situations, they are likely to consume 40 percent more food than normal.
Those scientists recommended turning off the nightly newscast before eating dinner, to keep bad news and overeating at bay.
Smoking Drinking And Drug Use And Stress
You might find that you smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs to reduce stress. However, this often makes problems worse.28
Research shows that smoking may increase feelings of anxiety.29 Nicotine creates an immediate, temporary, sense of relaxation, which can then lead to withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Similarly, you may use alcohol as a means to manage and cope with difficult feelings, and to temporarily reduce feelings of anxiety. However, alcohol may make existing mental health problems worse. It can make you feel more anxious and depressed in the long run.30 It is important to know the recommended limits31 and drink responsibly.
Prescription drugs, such as tranquillisers and sleeping tablets, which may have been prescribed for very good reasons, can also cause mental and physical health problems if used for long periods of time.32 Street drugs, such as cannabis or ecstasy, are usually taken for recreational purposes. For some people, problems start as their bodies get used to repeated use of the drug. This leads to the need for increased doses to maintain the same effect.33
Have You Had Any Recent Major Life Changes
Life changes such as getting married, moving to a new city, or losing a job can all be stressful. You can’t always control these things, but you can control how you respond to them.
To find out your current stress level based on recent changes in your life, try this Interactive Tool: What Is Your Stress Level?
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Simple Ways To Relieve Stress And Anxiety
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Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people. In fact, 70% of adults in the United States say they feel stress or anxiety daily.
Here are 16 simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.
It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress.
The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who dont exercise .
There are a few reasons behind this:
- Stress hormones: Exercise lowers your bodys stress hormones such as cortisol in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
- Sleep: Exercise can also improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.
- Confidence: When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.
- Try to find an exercise routine or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, rock climbing or yoga.
Activities such as walking or jogging that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.
Other Types Of Relaxation Techniques
Many de-stressing therapies have common goals. They aim to help you pay attention to your body and focus on aspects of your breathing or other exercises that will lower your blood pressure and increase feelings of well-being. You can try:
- Biofeedback, which measures body functions and helps you learn to control them.
- Self-hypnosis, in which a practitioner teaches you to relax when you hear a phrase or get a nonspoken cue.
- Massage therapy, which can include Swedish, sports, Shiatsu, or other types of massage.
- Music therapy, when a therapist uses music to accomplish health goals.
- Art therapy, which uses art to enhance your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
- Aromatherapy, or using essential oils as a type of treatment.
- Hydrotherapy, which can include soaking, compresses, or even steam baths.
While relaxation practices are mostly safe for heathy people, there have been reports of negative impacts, such as increased stress, bad thoughts, or a fear of losing control. Talk to your doctor about what practice might be best for you, depending on the relaxation technique you want to try and your health.
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How To Calm Down: 3 Ways To Reduce Anxiety And Stress
Youd think wed be used to dealing with the pandemic by now weve had more than a year of wearing masks, social distancing and on-and-off business closures. But even with the vaccine rollout and the easing of restrictions for people who are vaccinated a lot of us are more stressed and anxious than we were last spring.
People are feeling like things havent changed. Theyre supposed to be excited about the vaccine, but the isolation has gotten the worst of them, Susan Bernstein, a licensed social worker in Connecticut and Massachusetts and an adjunct faculty member at Boston University, told TODAY.
Not to mention that the thought of returning to normal is causing anxiety, too. If you are feeling the effects, here are some ways you can cope.
Make Time For Workplace Wellness
Your workplace should support your sustained wellbeing throughout the day. Say it again so you dont forget. Hard work needs balance to be sustainable. Now, not everyone is lucky enough to have a dedicated home office, but there are plenty of small things you can do to make your work from home experience more enjoyable and healthier. Some excellent items to facilitate this are:
- Greenery in your scenery.
- In addition to improving the air quality, adding indoor plants to your desktop can have a soothing effect and make your space feel calmer.
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How Can You Help Yourself
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.37 It is therefore important that we manage our stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
Learn To Avoid Procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating.
Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality .
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.
Prioritize what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yogas effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety .
However, many of these studies are limited, and there are still questions about how yoga works to achieve stress reduction.
In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.
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How Do You Measure Your Stress Level
Sometimes it is clear where stress is coming from. You can count on stress during a major life change such as the death of a loved one, getting married, or having a baby. But other times it may not be so clear why you feel stressed.
It’s important to figure out what causes stress for you. Everyone feels and responds to stress differently. Tracking your stress may help. Get a notebook, and write down when something makes you feel stressed. Then write how you reacted and what you did to deal with the stress. Tracking your stress can help you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel. Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or handle it better.
To find out how stressed you are right now, use this Interactive Tool: What Is Your Stress Level?
Consider Flexible Work Schedules
If any of your employees have children or an elder parent in need, the demands of work and home life can quickly become overwhelming. Allowing for employees to have a flexible work schedule will give them time to take care of the people they love, and in turn allow them to be more present at work while theyre there.
If your employees perform work that could be done remotely, consider days where they can work from home as well if it makes their lives easier. Modern tools like Slack and Google Hangouts can still keep the communication lines open.
Related article: The Future Workplace: Where Flexibility Trounces Paid Time Off
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Create Tension To Release Tension
Progressive muscle relaxation helps with de-stressing by tapping into your mind-body connection. The idea is simple: Tense up your muscle groups one by onereally squeezing until theyre pretty tense for 30 seconds eachand then release them all at once. Try this five-minute tutorial via InsightTimer after your next Zoom meeting.
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How To Manage Your Stress
The first step is to recognize that contrary to common misconceptions, stress isnt a force beyond your control. It doesnt exist outside of you in the environment or external situations instead, stress is an internal response to a perceived threat or unmet need. Its not the overdue payment, broken dishwasher, or fight with our spouse that causes stressits your thoughts and the story you tell yourself about an event or circumstance that create the emotional upset, racing heart rate, shallow breathing, surging adrenalin, and other symptoms of the stress response.
I like to use the analogy of surfing: If youre a skillful surfer who loves the water, you will see every wave as an exhilarating adventure or at least an opportunity to learn something new. On the other hand, if youre afraid of being in the ocean and have never learned how to surf, you will see every wave as a terrifying potential disaster. From this example, its easy to see that stress doesnt lie in the external event but in your perception of it.
Lets look at some of the specific ways in which meditation can help you manage stress and cultivate greater health and well-being.
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Home Remedies: Anxiety And Stress
Stress is something that just about everyone knows well and experiences often. Itâs that feeling of pressure, typically a result of too much to do and too little time to do it in. In a busy life, stress is almost unavoidable. Stress is caused by events that are positive new job, vacation or marriage as well as negative job loss, divorce or death in the family. Stress is not the event itself but rather, your psychological or physical reaction to the event.
Anxiety is a tense feeling that often accompanies stress. Itâs typically directed toward the future toward something that may happen soon. Some Anxiety can motivate you or help yo respond to danger. However, if you have ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities and makes it hard to enjoy life, then anxiety can be a problem.
Lifestyle and home remedies:
Art and music therapy can be helpful. You can use drawing, painting, clay and sculpture to express you inner thought and emotions when talking about them is difficult. The creation and interpretations of art is thought to therapeutic. Listening to or playing music even during medical procedures a]has also been shown to have relaxing and calming effects.
To cope with an anxiety disorder, here are things to consider:
Thereâs no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if youâre anxious:
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Stress Can Ruin Your Teeth And Gums
Some people respond to stressful situations through nervous tics or by grinding their teeth.
While people often grind their teeth unconsciously or when they sleep, it can do lasting damage to your jaw and wear your teeth thin.
A multi-university study in 2012 also linked stress to gum disease.
Researchers concluded that the pressures of marriage, parenthood, work, or lack of romantic involvement were factors in periodontal disease.
But those at greatest risk were people who became highly emotional when dealing with stress caused by their finances.
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Spend Time With Friends And Family
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times.
Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times.
One study found that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called tend and befriend, and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response .
Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship.
Another study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety .
Having strong social ties may help you get through stressful times and lower your risk of anxiety.
Its hard to feel anxious when youre laughing. Its good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
- Relieving your stress response.
- Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles.
In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted (
Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh.
Find the humor in everyday life, spend time with funny friends or watch a comedy show to help relieve stress.
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are.
One way to do this may be to say no more often.
Ways To Reduce Stress And Keep Blood Pressure Down
When it comes to preventing and treating high blood pressure, one often-overlooked strategy is managing stress. If you often find yourself tense and on-edge, try these seven ways to reduce stress.
For more information on lifestyle changes to treat high blood pressure and how to choose the right medication if needed, read , a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
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Quick Stress Relief At Home
Entertaining. Prevent pre-party jitters by playing lively music. Light candles. The flicker and scent will stimulate your senses. Wear clothes that make you feel relaxed and confident.
Kitchen. Ease kitchen stress by breathing in the scent of every ingredient. Delight in the delicate texture of an eggshell. Appreciate the weight of an onion.
Children and relationships. Prevent losing your cool during a spousal spat by squeezing the tips of your thumb and forefinger together. When your toddler has a tantrum, rub lotion into your hands and breathe in the scent.
Sleep. Too stressed to snooze? Try using a white noise machine for background sound or a humidifier with a diffuser for a light scent in the air.
Creating a sanctuary. If clutter is upsetting, spend 10 minutes each day to tidy. Display photos and images that make you feel happy. Throw open the curtains and let in natural light.