Avoid Stress for Heart Health

February 6th, 2012 · 2 Comments · Heart Health

Stress in our life does more than cause headaches and irritability. We all deal with the day-to-day stressors but if we don’t address them properly we may be doing more damage internally than we know. While we have focused on different aspects of heart health month with our recent posts, we wanted to take it further than foods for heart health or heart disease in women and bring in something we can all relate to: daily stress. Here are 5 easy ways to help deal with stress and keep your heart healthier.

Walk off the Stress for Heart Health

Get out and play! Walk off the stress for heart health!

Get out and play! Walk off the stress for heart health!

We all know how important exercise is to our overall health but did you know that it can be beneficial to relieve stress? Stress is tough on our bodies, our hearts especially, and manifests itself in several negative ways. By choosing to do something as simple as walking you are assisting your body in combating the negative effects of stress on your system. Whether you’re breaking a sweat or taking the dog for a lap around the block after a hard day, general movement will help to combat your stress levels and give your heart a break. When stress is present in our daily lives, our hearts begin to feel the impact: plaque forms, free radicals wreak havoc, and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels increase.

Start slow and work your way up more vigorous exercise; doing so regularly will strengthen your heart muscles and help your system deal with stress more effectively. Find ways to involved the family as well! Being active is usually easier with a buddy so find a partner and get moving! You’ll feel the benefits in your mood and see them on your waistline!

Mind, Body, Breath, Stress

Yoga for stress management means a healthier heart.

Yoga for stress management means a healthier heart.

Exercises which combine relaxation and breathing are beneficial for reducing stress and improving heart health. Yoga, for example, combines physical work for the body while the mind links to relaxation and focusing on breathing. As you breath you are able to release stress and your heart is benefited by the physical activity and calming movements. T’ai Chi and Qigong also combine these same principals and through practice allow you to better avoid stress and improve your heart health. Here’s more good news: exercises that have a stress-management component (like those listed here) showed a significant drop in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as significant weight loss when combined with a low-saturated fat diet. Slimmer waist line and less stress? That’s a breath of fresh air! To learn more about yoga and how you can find an inexpensive outlet to this practice, see our recent post.

Banish the Blues for Heart Health

Depression & mood disorders impact your heart health.

Depression & mood disorders impact your heart health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depressed people are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Behavioral-depression makes you feel less inspired to take care of yourself so you’re less likely to exercise or eat healthy thus contributing to negative impacts on the heart. Treating depression may mean consulting your doctor or natural practitioner, or making a few key lifestyle changes that allow you to feel empowered and energized. It may be difficult but try to pinpoint where you are experiencing the most stress and dissatisfaction in your life and work from there. For example, if you’re stressed with your commute and the mental strain it puts on your system, try taking public transportation and bring a book along with you that you can enjoy. Whatever the case, start small and get going! Addressing your depression will help you improve your mental and heart health.

Touch for Stress and Heart Health

Massage and Reiki have been hailed for their abilities to reduce tension and ease stress in the body. Add to that the fact that touch offers stimulating relaxation and has been noteworthy in the reduction of blood pressure and strain on the heart. Even if you don’t believe in the power of touch or even if you don’t suffer from heart issues, taking the time to have a massage or Reiki treatment will be beneficial to your mental health.

Prioritize Heart Health with Relaxation

Relaxation can improve heart health and combat stress

Relaxation can improve heart health and combat stress

Our hearts rule our bodies and directly affect all other systems. If our hearts are unhappy then chances are that other areas of our body are suffering. Stress provides unwanted mental exhaustion while also affecting our hearts, digestive systems, and even our sleep patterns.  A 2008 study showed that doing two 10 minute breath-awareness meditations each day significantly reducing blood pressure and resting heart rate. Choose a quiet place and simply breath, paying attention to each breath, for 10 minutes. Don’t feel like focusing on this? We have an alternative! Try playing music (like classical) with a slow tempo and sit and listen to the songs calmly. Studies have shown that even doing this will decrease your heart rate and stress levels.

Stressors in our lives are unavoidable. What’s important is how we deal with them in order to keep our minds and bodies healthy. Our heart health is easily affected by our stress levels so being vigilant about adapting to and dealing with stress if important. We’ve got tips for how to release anger, which is helpful for dealing with stress, as well as essential oils that can be used to boost your mood or help you sleep. See what the natural world has to offer for stress maintenance and don’t forget to see our heart care section or mind and mood section for more on how you can keep your heart healthy and happy.


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