Healthy lifestyle habits help reduce impact of stress
You’re running late, stuck in traffic, and it happens every day. Maybe you’re trying to work from home, manage kids, and follow COVID-19 restrictions.
Maybe you’re stressed out about money, a health issue, or a difficult relationship. Or maybe you’ve just experienced one of those traumatic life events that changes everything.
Any of these stressful life experiences sound familiar?
Everybody experiences stress at some point. And even good things can be stressful, like starting a new job, getting married, or moving to a new house.
But when chronic stress rules your life, it can take a toll on your health and happiness. New research even suggests chronic stress increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.1
In the study, researchers followed a group of people for about four years. They looked at the area of the brain that tries to make sense of stressful events. And they found that higher levels of activity in the amygdala increase the risk for heart disease (the leading cause of death in the U.S.).
“Our results provide a unique insight into how stress may lead to cardiovascular disease,” says lead researcher Dr. Ahmed Tawakol. “This raises the possibility that reducing stress could produce benefits that extend beyond an improved sense of psychological well-being,”
So what should you do when you’re feeling stressed out?
Some people try to ignore stress, hoping things will get better. And sometimes they do.
Others turn to food, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and other unhealthy habits to manage stress. And it usually creates more stress and other health problems. OK. That’s what not to do to manage stress.
If you’re living with chronic stress, your risk goes up for depression, eating disorders, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, and more.2
If you’re feeling stressed out, here are seven tips to protect your health.
1. Sit Less, Move More
Just 20 to 30 minutes of daily walking, yoga, or other exercise can improve your mood as well as physical health.3 It burns up stress hormones, and stimulates the mind to help you relax and think better about your problems.
2. Take a Deep Breath or Two or Three…
Breathe. It might sound too simple, but it really works. Try it. Take 10 deep breaths. Inhale, then exhale…slowly.
Deep breathing has a calming effect that can reduce stressful feelings such as anger, anxiety, and fear.4 Making this a regular habit can also help lower blood pressure and increase your energy level.
3. Get Your Zzzs
Sleep on it. Aim to sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. If that’s a challenge, take a nap during the day. too. Adequate sleep can help reduce stress and restore the body to a relaxed state. When you don’t sleep well, hormones linked to stress are higher, raising your risk for heart disease and other health problems.5
Other ways to reduce stress include:
4. Eat a healthy diet.
5. Spend time with family and friends.
6. Laugh more.
7. Make time for a hobby you enjoy.
If you’re always stressed out, talk to your doctor or ask a professional for help. You’ll feel better and live longer.
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