Stress And How It Hurts Your Heart

Stress is a natural response of the human body to various factors. It is often a prelude to our inherent coping mechanism responding to triggering agents.

Everyone experiences stress and responds to it in unique ways. Positive stress can motivate you to reach your goals or deal with responsibilities, but once it crosses your threshold it can have adverse effects.

What causes Stress?

Stress can be caused by several agents called "Stressors", which may be physical, emotional or environmental. Stressors may be minor factors or something major. Common stressors include illnesses, loss of a loved one, relationship or financial problems and work overload, among many others.

Stress and the Heart

The human body has its own way of responding to stress by releasing the stress hormones - adrenalin and cortisol. However, chronic exposure to these hormones can have a deleterious impact on the heart.

It has been observed that stress leads to behaviours that in turn could damage the heart. For example, a person under stress usually resorts to coping through excessive smoking, drinking or binge eating, to manage stress. A stressed person is also likely to be sedentary. These negative responses to stress can lead to high cholesterol levels, elevate blood pressure and cause other serious heart conditions.

Chronic stress also affects mechanisms involved in the formation of blood clots and this can increase one's risk for heart attacks. These stress-induced heart conditions may be prevented or brought under by managing stress.

How does one deal with stress?

Tranquillizers and anti-anxiety medicines are used to deal with stress but they don't offer a long-term solution.

It is important to identify the stressor and adopt management strategies to deal with the agent causing the stress. Those suffering from chronic stress can seek help by consulting a therapist or through rehab programs.

Here are a few tips that you may follow to control stress:

Exercise - We've often heard about the importance of exercising to stay fit. Any form of physical activity aids in producing endorphins which are chemical substances that can reduce stress, help you to relax and sleep well.

Positive attitude - 'There's something good in everything' is an oft-repeated saying which inspires us to learn from every situation and avoid being overly critical, bitter or stressed.

Self-esteem - A good self-esteem is a positive attitude towards oneself .It provides the necessary immunity to deal with diseases

Relaxation and Sleep - These days it is considered important to fill your every waking minute with some form of activity. But it is equally important to rest and unwind. There are many ways by which you can relax. Gentle exercises, music, meditation and relaxation therapies are effective methods. However the most natural and rejuvenating of them all is eight hours of sound sleep.

Healthy diet - Avoid junk food and follow a healthy diet regime to reduce stress and maintain good health

Smoking / alcohol - Stay away from smoking or drinking alcohol as these aids in increasing stress

Avoid caffeine - Excessive caffeine consumption can add to your stress, so stay away from too many cups of your favourite brew

Set realistic goals and learn to say 'no' - This will enable you to reduce stress and find time to do things that you love.

Unmanaged stress could be lethal. Make sure you deal with it.

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