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Always Feel Stressed? Research Says You Are As Prone To Heart Disease As Smokers

Always Feel Stressed? Research Says You Are As Prone To Heart Disease As Smokers

Most people are familiar with the well-known risk factors for heart disease, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, alcohol or drug abuse, smoking, and obesity. However, researchers have discovered that frequently being exposed to high levels of stress, can pose the same risk of cardiovascular disease as it would in a smoker.

How stress affects our cardiovascular health

A study finds strong evidence that supports the prevailing thought about the correlation between chronic stressors and heart disease. Stress has a detrimental effect on our cardiovascular system, as different types of stress cause damage to different parts of the system.

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Chronic depression and anxiety can lead to coronary artery disease. A study shows how being exposed to high levels of stress for a longer period of time can cause our blood to be tricked into behaving as it would prior to an injury, which triggers hyper-coagulation that can lead to a severe condition – coronary artery disease.

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Moreover, unexpected stress triggers cause the heart rate to increase which leads to the shrinking of arteries and ultimately, decreases the blood flow to the heart.

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With patients suffering from heart rhythm disorders, stress can cause serious cases of arrhythmia as it affects heart rhythm.

Another study explains how stress affects hypertension, or increased blood pressure. A number of stress factors such as white coat hypertension, job strain, race, social environment, and emotional distress, when experienced over a longer period of time, cause elevations in blood pressure which, when repeated, lead to hypertension.

Stress cardiomyopathy, or a “broken heart syndrome”, is a heart condition where heart muscles are weakened by high levels of emotional stress caused by extreme grief, anger, or surprise. The condition can also be caused by extreme physical stress due to seizure, stroke, or significant bleeding.

First aid in stressful situations

  • Deep breaths calm and soothe us down: Each time you find yourself in a stressful situation and experience some of the early symptoms, try taking deep breaths through your nose. This will regulate your heart rate and calm you.
  • Relax your shoulders: Together, with taking deep breaths, focus all of your attention to your shoulders and relax them. All stress and tension tend to accumulate in our shoulders, therefore, help your body relieve its stress and tension by focusing on the area it feels it most.
  • Count to ten before speaking: If the situation that causes you stress requires you to speak, don’t let the stress control your reaction. Calm down and count to ten to recover your focus.
  • Positive self-talk: In most cases, it is the little voice inside our head that controls most of our thoughts, emotions, and reactions. Negative self-talk increases our levels of stress. Practice changing it into positive thoughts. Instead of telling yourself, “You are never going to do it,” try changing it into something like, “You can do it. You are worthy.”

Long-term stress relievers

  • Meditation gives you tools to calm down and be mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions.
  • Developing and practicing a relaxing hobby will make you enjoy your life much more and accumulate positive energy to help you cope with stress.
  • Walk in nature at least half an hour each day. Colors and sounds in nature will have calming effect.
  • Keep a lavender scent or wear lavender perfume to create an additional soothing effect.
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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

Are you afraid of being alone?  Do you worry about your physical safety or do you fear loneliness? These are strong negative feelings that can impact your health.

One study found that when older people are socially isolated, there is an increased risk of an earlier death,[1] by as much as 26%.

If you experience loneliness and are worried about your fear of being alone, study these 6 ways to help you find your comfort zone.

But first, the good news!

How many times have you said to yourself, ‘I just can’t wait to be alone’? This might be after a day’s work, an argument with your partner or after a noisy dinner with friends. You need time to be yourself, gather your thoughts, relish the silence and just totally chill out. These are precious moments and are very important for your own peace of mind and mental refreshment.

But for many people, this feeling is not often present and loneliness takes over. As Joss Whedon once said,

‘Loneliness is about the scariest thing out there’.

Read on and discover how you can exploit being alone to your own advantage and how you can defeat loneliness.

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1. Embrace loneliness

When you are alone, it is important to embrace it and enjoy it to the full.

Wallow in the feeling that you do not have to be accountable for anything you do. Pursue your interests and hobbies. Take up new ones. Learn new skills. Lie on the couch. Leave the kitchen in a mess. The list can go on and on, but finding the right balance is crucial.

There will be times when being on your own is perfect, but then there will be a creeping feeling that you should not be so isolated.

When you start to enjoy being alone, these 10 amazing things will happen.

Once you start feeling loneliness, then it is time to take action.

2. Facebook is not the answer

Have you noticed how people seek virtual contacts instead of a live, face-to-face interaction? It is true that social networking can provide an initial contact, but the chances of that becoming a real life personal contact is pretty slim.

Being wrapped up in a cloud of sharing, liking and commenting (and insulting!) can only increase loneliness.

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When you really want company, no one on Facebook will phone you to invite you out.

3. Stop tolerating unhappy relationships

It is a cruel fact of life that people are so scared of loneliness that they often opt into a relationship with the wrong person.

There is enormous pressure from peers, family and society in general to get married or to be in a stable, long-term relationship. When this happens, people start making wrong decisions, such as:

  • hanging out with toxic company such as dishonest or untrustworthy people;
  • getting involved with unsuitable partners because of the fear of being alone or lonesome;
  • accepting inappropriate behavior just because of loneliness;
  • seeking a temporary remedy instead of making a long-term decision.

The main problem is that you need to pause, reflect and get advice. Recognize that your fear of being alone is taking over. A rash decision now could lead to endless unhappiness.

4. Go out and meet people

It was the poet John Donne (1572 – 1631) who wrote:

‘No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent’.

Human contact is essential to surviving in this world. Instead of wallowing in boredom and sadness, you need to get out as much as possible and seek contacts.

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Being a member of a group, however tenuous, is a great way. So when you are in the gym, at church or simply at a club meeting, exploit these contacts to enlarge your social circle.

There is no point in staying at home all the time. You will not meet any new people there!

Social contacts are rather like delicate plants. You have to look after them. That means telephoning, using Skype and being there when needed.

Take a look at this guide on How to Meet New People and Make Friends with The Best.

5. Reach out to help someone in need

A burden shared is a burden halved.

Dag Hammarskjold was keenly aware of this fact when he said:

‘What makes loneliness an anguish is not that I have no one to share my burden but this: I have only my own burden to bear’.

Simply put, it is a two-way street. Helping others actually helps yourself, here’s why.

Reach out to help and people will be there when you need them.

6. Be grateful and count your blessings

Study after study shows that if people show gratitude, they will reap a bountiful harvest. These include a stronger immune system, better health, more positive energy and most important of all, feeling less lonely and isolated.

If you do not believe me, watch the video below, ‘What good is gratitude?’  Now here is the path to hope and happiness:

Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

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