Managing stress is an important and often overlooked component to heart and vascular health and health in general. It is crucial to maintaining physical and emotional health, and is particularly crucial in regard to heart and vascular health.
Stress affects the body in many ways, including constricting arteries and veins and increasing blood pressure. Chronic stress increases your breathing rate and impairs your immune system, which makes you more vulnerable to disease of all kinds, including heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, practicing meditation and mindfulness may help you manage your stress and high blood pressure, sleep better, feel more balanced and connected, and even lower your risk of heart disease. These practices often use breathing, quiet contemplation or sustained focus on something, such as an image, phrase or sound, to help you let go of stress and feel calmer and more relaxed.
Some studies have linked meditation to healthier arteries and improved blood flow to the heart. Additional studies are needed to better understand the association between meditation and cardiovascular health, but experts agree that this practice can be good for your heart. There are many kinds of meditation. Some of the popular types are:
Other styles of meditation include: compassion, insight, mantra, Zen and others. Try different types of meditation to figure out which one you enjoy most. The key is to focus on your breathing so your mind doesn't wander. If it does wander, slowly bring it back to your breathing. Slowly lengthen the amount of time you are able to remain focused. Meditation is not a substitute for medication or medical treatment, but it can be a way for you to take charge of your health.
Feeling stressed? Available for iOS, the Baylor Heart Center app has a new meditation program. Built into the app, using this regularly during times of stress may help to decrease anxiety or that "stressed" feeling. Available for download on the Apple App Store. Search: Baylor Heart Center.
There are certain behaviors that are known to increase stress levels and are thus good to avoid whenever possible. These behaviors include:
There are some simple ways you can re-organize and start on the path to lowering stress. First come two of the pillars of good health: exercise and eating a balanced diet. Studies show that exercise can alleviate depression in some people, and that many nutrients are necessary for the correct functioning of brain chemistry. There are some other strategies as well, such as deep breathing and meditation; breathing slowly and deeply from the diaphragm helps to create a sense of calm, as well as helps to detoxify the body, and sitting still and straight and focusing on your breathing may help your mind and body to relax.
Keeping a journal often allows you to sort through issues and move forward, writing down your thoughts and feelings can be energizing and liberating. Similarly, support groups and therapy allow the opportunity to share with others who understand or can provide insight about your unique situation. Finally, never underestimate the power of a good night's sleep.
Physical and physiological changes that occur with stress:
We are here to help you succeed and decrease stress levels, thereby improving your cardiovascular health. Here are some tips to help you cope with stress: