Ways to Help You Relieve Stress
Constant stress, whether from a traffic-choked daily commute, unhappy marriage, or heavy workload can have real physical effects on the body. It has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including mood, sleep, and appetite problems and yes, even heart disease.
Doctors don’t know exactly how chronic stress affects the heart. Most likely, stress triggers inflammation, a known instigator of heart disease, but that hasn’t been proven. “I think the conventional opinion is that stress is bad for your heart, but the data are much murkier,” says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Yet stress may influence heart disease in more subtle ways. “Stress does cause some people to act in ways that increase their risk for heart disease,” Dr. Bhatt says. For example, when stressed, people often eat unhealthy food and don’t have the energy or time to exercise. Stress can also lead us into other heart-damaging behaviors, such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
Breaking the connection requires both learning to deal with stress and managing unhealthy habits. These simple tips can help you do just that.
1. Breathe it out.
Breathing exercises are one of the simplest relaxation strategies, and can effectively calm your stressed-out body and mind anywhere at any time. Sit or lay down in a quiet and safe place such as on your bed or the floor in your home and put one of your hands on your belly. Breathe in to a slow count of three, and then breathe out to the same slow count of three. Feel your belly rise and fall as you breathe in and out. Repeat five times, or as long as you need to feel relaxed.
2. Take an Insta Break
If your to-do list is seriously stressing you out, visiting your favorite sites online can help. Research has found that taking occasional 10-minute time-outs to hit up Seventeen.com (hello, One Direction quiz!), Insta, or YouTube increases focus and productivit
3. Pick Up the Phone
Instead of texting all your worries to your BFF, give her a quick call instead. A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that hearing a friend’s voice can actually lower your stress levels.
4. Write down your thoughts
Getting things off your mind by writing them down may help you relax. When you feel stressed, take a few minutes to write down some short notes about how you’re feeling or how your day is going. You might do this in a notebook or in a notes app on your smartphone. Don’t worry about being poetic or spelling everything correctly. Just focus on expressing yourself to help release some of your stress.
5. Make a list
Making a list about what you’re grateful for can help some people feel relaxed. Experts say that when we’re stressed, we tend to focus on the negative parts of life rather than the positive. Thinking about the positive parts of your life and writing them down may help you chill out. Try to think of three good things that happened to you today and write them down, even if they’re small things like getting to work on time or eating a delicious lunch.
6. Sweat It Out
Fend off any freak-out by joining your mom at the gym and unloading all your negative energy onto a punching bag. Or pop your headphones in and go for run to clear your mind. exercising not only helps you destress, it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintain a healthy weight. Who’s strong enough to take on any challenge? You.
This practice of inward-focused thought and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Meditation’s close relatives, yoga and prayer, can also relax the mind and body.
8. Connect to nature.
Spending just a few minutes in nature when you feel stressed may help you relax. When you’re feeling stressed, take a step outside and go for a short walk, or simply sit in nature. But you don’t necessarily need to be in nature to feel its stress-reducing effects. Scientists have found that simply looking at images of natureTrusted Source with greenery for five minutes on a computer screen can help calm you down. So, thanks to technology, even people living and working in big cities far from nature can still experience its calming effects.