Stress can have a substantial effect on your health, especially if itâ€™s chronic or severe. Unfortunately, itâ€™s an unavoidable part of life. When your job is a struggle, you have a family to take care of, and you encounter various challenges on a day-to-day basis, itâ€™s inevitable to start feeling stretched too thin.
Excessive stress contributes to a myriad of health risk factors and conditions, including asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, hypertension, and ulcers. Whatâ€™s more, stress can also severely impact your heart health, as your response to stress might drive certain behaviors that arenâ€™t good for your heart. Letâ€™s have a look at how stress impacts your heart and how you can protect it:
Stress response that affects heart health.
People respond to stress differently, and this response largely determines the effect of it on health. Some people might experience tension headaches, a lack of energy, sleep pattern disruptions, or stomach and digestion issues.
Of course, our immediate reaction to a stressful event can also impact the heart, if the state of high agitation is prolonged. An increase in adrenaline allows us to react to an unexpected and stressful chain of events, but with constant stress, the heart is in a steady state of exertion.
Thereâ€™s also the aspect of unhealthy stress management, such as indulging in alcohol or cigarettes, and even overeating. Thatâ€™s especially dangerous, considering the harmful effects of these habits on your cardiovascular health like increased blood pressure and artery wall damage. Overeating can also saddle you with high cholesterol, which can escalate the problem further.
Stress management and remedies.
Unfortunately, stress isnâ€™t that easy to manage. The main issue is that while itâ€™s easy to tell yourself youâ€™ll walk away from stressful situations, sometimes itâ€™s isnâ€™t possible. Whatâ€™s more, we tend to fall into a stressful lifestyle and become its hostage, so even replacing a bad habit with a relaxing one like yoga can seem like too much work.
However, there are a couple of techniques you can try out when you find yourself in a high-stress situation or environment. For example, take a few deep breaths to settle down, as this slows down the racing of your heart by decreasing the influx of adrenaline. Alternatively, you could try to count to five or ten before you speak. If youâ€™re facing a problem thatâ€™s difficult to solve, try changing your approach and coming up with ways to break it down into manageable tasks.
Stress is a significant health concern and can cause major changes in the gut and in the brain, which can cause changes in behavior. Also, eating high-fiber foods may reduce the effects of stress on our gut and behavior, according to new research published in The Journal of Physiology.
Becoming aware of stress is the first step in defeating it and decreasing its harmful impact on your health. Even though active relaxation and taking time for yourself might seem like a luxury you canâ€™t afford, your heart will thank you for it.
Staying healthy requires us to regularly and conscientiously make good decisions for ourselves. Only this can keep the numerous harmful influences at bay. Itâ€™s essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle to protect your heart both from the stress and its physical manifestations. Itâ€™s an effort, but it will be worth it.
James Price, who wrote this article, is the chief executive officer of Cholesterade.