Stress is something many of us face daily and it has an incredible effect on our whole body, especially the heart.
What is stress?
Many recognize stress as a feeling. Physiologically, it is the body’s reaction to anything that appears ‘dangerous’. When our bodies experience stress, the adrenal glands excrete a hormone called adrenaline, which accelerates the heart rate and increases blood pressure.
This response is initiated by a part of our brain called the amygdala. It is tasked with keeping us out of danger in a rather primitive way. The amygdala doesn’t recognize the difference between the physical danger of an oncoming train and missing a deadline. Every small stressor can seem like the oncoming bus. Chronic stress can negatively affect your cardiovascular health and can contribute to conditions such as hypertension.
What can I do to manage stress?
- Practice focused, deep breathing. When you feel stressed, take 10 deep breaths. Exhale longer (8 count) than you inhale (5 count). This practice will help you lower your heart rate and decrease the effects of stress that you are experiencing.
- Be active. Something as simple as a walk around the block or an at-home workout can lower your adrenaline levels, calming your heart rate and your mind.
- Walk away from the stressful situation. Take a moment to walk away and to regroup. Getting yourself out of the immediately stressful situation, even if for a moment, can help lower your blood pressure. This way, you can come back in a calmer state of mind, ready to tackle the task at hand.
- Find what makes you feel good and do it. If you find drawing to be relaxing, then take a few minutes a day to doodle. If you enjoy walks with your dog, knitting or woodworking, make the time for them - even if it’s for just 10 minutes a day. A little goes a long way.
Help your heart by practicing these stress management techniques daily.
If you need a cardiologist schedule an appointment with North Suffolk Cardiology by calling 631-941-2000.