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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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