Heart & Stress; Our bodies react to stress by sending levels of stress-related steroids, like cortisol, into the blood. High fluctuations of cortisol can make the heart beat faster and constrict blood vessels which keep blood centered, instead of pumping throughout the rest of the body.
Prolonged stress can lead to chronic anxiety, irritability, and tension and this can disrupt our daily hormone patterns. However, there are steps and healthy habits we can incorporate into our daily lives to combat and prevent stress before they lead to a meltdown or long-term health side-effects, including heart disease and high blood pressure
Six steps to manage stress and improve your cardiovascular.
1. QUIT SMOKING
Using tobacco of any kind is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack. Research says it takes on average seven attempts at quitting before a person is finally successful, so keep trying to quit even if you haven’t succeeded in the past!
Getting regular, daily exercise not only reduces your risk of heart disease, but it produces endorphins which increases your mood and knocks out stress. Physical activity can also help you control your weight and reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Staying active for about 30 minutes on most days of the week, equating to 150 minutes of moderate activity per week OR 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week is a great place to start!
3. EAT A HEART-HEALTHY DIET
Maintaining a healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Including a rich variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your meals each day can help protect your heart. Aim to eat beans, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean meats, and fish as part of a healthy diet. Some health experts also claim a well-balanced diet can boost your mood! For some recipes click here.
4. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Being overweight, especially if you carry excess weight around your middle, can increase your risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Losing as little as 5-10 lbs. can lower your risk and even improve your self-esteem, so a little goes a long way!
5. GET ENOUGH QUALITY SLEEP
Sleep deprivation can harm both your health and your mood. People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and depression. Limiting screens before bed can also help regulate cortisol levels and improve your sleep as well. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
6. REGULAR HEALTH SCREENINGS
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can damage your heart and blood vessels. But without testing for them, you probably won’t know whether you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to act. A healthcare professional can also create a custom treatment plan for your specific health situation.