5 Stress Management Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Heart Disease

22nd May 2023 - Rob Stanway

Are you feeling the strain of everyday life? Today, modern life is busier than ever, and stress has become an unfortunate reality for most of us. We are constantly faced with pressures from our job, family commitments, financial problems, or health issues – all of which can have an adverse effect on our physical and mental well-being.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our hearts in particular – one of the main areas impacted by stress – these negative effects can be particularly significant. Not only does chronic stress increase the risk for conditions such as hypertension or high cholesterol that could cause heart disease, but also increases the likelihood of having a stroke if you already suffer from any form of cardiovascular ill-health.

However, there are ways we can better manage stress to reduce its effects and safeguard against the potential risks associated with unmitigated continuous exposure. This year, for Mental Health Awareness Week, we are focussing on how you can reduce your risk of heart disease by managing stress. In this blog post, we’ll explore five practical tips for relieving stress so that you can reduce your chance of developing heart disease, and how to address stress before it becomes a more serious problem down the line.

 

COMMON RESPONSES TO STRESS

Your body’s response to stress is supposed to protect you. But, if it’s constant, it can harm you.

There are several common responses to stress, and the specific response can vary from person to person. Some of the common responses to stress include:

Physical Responses: Stress can cause several physical responses, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, muscle tension, rapid breathing, and sweating. It is not uncommon for people to have aches and pains in relation to stress too.

Emotional Responses: Stress can also trigger a range of emotional responses, such as feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, irritability, and sadness.

Behavioural Responses: Stress can lead to changes in behaviour, such as overeating or undereating, increased use of alcohol or drugs, withdrawal from social activities, and difficulty sleeping, which in turn contributes to reduced energy levels.

Cognitive Responses: Stress can also affect our ability to think and reason clearly, leading to problems with decision-making and concentration. It can also affect memory and make you a lot more forgetful than usual.

Coping Responses: When we experience stress, we may also engage in coping responses, such as seeking social support, engaging in problem-solving, or using relaxation techniques.

It’s important to note that while stress is a natural response to challenging situations, chronic stress can have negative impacts on both physical and mental health. Finding effective strategies to manage stress is essential for maintaining overall well-being.

 

HOW STRESS CAN IMPACT HEART HEALTH

Stress can have a significant impact on heart health. When we experience stress, our body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause several changes in the body. Studies suggest that high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. These are common risk factors for heart disease. This stress can also cause changes that promote the build-up of plaque deposits in the arteries. These changes can include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and poor blood flow to the heart muscle, which can affect how the blood clots.

Over time, chronic stress can lead to the development of several cardiovascular conditions, including:

  1. Hypertension: Prolonged stress can cause our blood pressure to remain elevated, leading to hypertension or high blood pressure.
  2. Coronary Artery Disease: Chronic stress can cause inflammation in the walls of our blood vessels, leading to the formation of plaque, which can narrow our arteries and limit blood flow to the heart.
  3. Arrhythmias: Stress can disrupt the normal electrical signals in our heart, leading to arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats.
  4. Heart Attack: Chronic stress can increase the risk of heart attack by triggering the rupture of a plaque in our arteries, leading to the formation of a blood clot that can block blood flow to the heart.
  5. Stroke: Chronic stress can also increase the risk of stroke by causing inflammation in the blood vessels in our brain.

 

5 STRESS MANAGEMENT TIPS

EXERCISE REGULARLY

Regular exercise is a great way to manage stress and improve heart health. Exercise can help to reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, and improve overall cardiovascular fitness. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.

Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress and improve heart health. Regular physical activity can help to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, while also increasing endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.

 

PRACTICE RELAXATION TECHNIQUES

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation, can help to reduce stress and promote a sense of calmness. If you are feeling stressed, these can help you to unwind.

These techniques can help to slow down the heart rate, lower blood pressure, and even reduce muscle tension. Try to practice relaxation techniques for at least 10-15 minutes every day, either on your own or with the guidance of a trained professional.

 

GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Lack of sleep can increase stress levels and negatively impact heart health. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night and establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.

To improve sleep quality, create a relaxing sleep environment by making time to unwind, do some reading, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and limit screen time and blue-light exposure in the evening.

 

CONNECT WITH OTHERS

Social support can be a powerful stress reliever. Spending time with loved ones, joining a support group, or volunteering can help to reduce stress and improve heart health. Connecting with others can provide a sense of belonging and help to create a support system, which can provide comfort during challenging times.

Spending time with friends and family is a great way to relax and unwind, especially if you have been feeling stressed out lately. Even just going for a coffee or having lunch together can help you relax and take your mind off the stress you are feeling.

 

MANAGE TIME EFFECTIVELY

Feeling overwhelmed by tasks and responsibilities can increase stress levels. Effective time management can help to reduce stress by prioritising tasks, setting realistic goals, and scheduling breaks and relaxation time.

Prioritising tasks can help to focus on the most important tasks while setting realistic goals can help to reduce the pressure of unrealistic expectations. Scheduling breaks and relaxation time can help to provide rest and rejuvenation, which can help to reduce stress levels.

 

HOW TO SUPPORT AEDDONATE

Our goal at AEDdonate is to help your community be prepared in the event of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Whatever you need, whether it’s a village, workplace, sports facility, school, or simply your local telephone box, AEDdonate can provide you with a one-stop service to make sure there are no weak links in the chain of survival.

AEDdonate is committed to improving survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, supporting the placement and use of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in local communities.

We achieve this by allowing communities to fundraise or purchase an AED which can then be registered with your local Ambulance Trust for use in an Emergency.

This will help protect communities from the UK’s biggest killer, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). By working together we CAN save lives.

 

CONTACT US today to apply for funding to get a defibrillator in your area, or CLICK HERE to donate.

Many of us will witness a cardiac arrest in our lifetime. Be ready for that day by learning how to do CPR, by SIGNING UP to one of our free zoom awareness sessions where you will have the opportunity to learn how to give lifesaving treatment, speak to one of our community defibrillator experts and ask any burning questions in relation to the topic.

 

 

01785 472224