I haven't blogged much this month. In fact, after my "final" blog post on February 3rd, I hadn't planned on blogging again for the rest of the month. But some work I did for my Nutrition class led me to some information that I think would be of benefit to many of the people I love, including my future self, so I'd like to share the discussion board post I wrote about what the American Heart Association said about the links between Stress and Heart Health.
1. As I browsed the American Heart Association's website, heart.org, one item that caught my attention was the link between heart disease and Stress.
2. According to the American Heart Association, there are many ways in which stress can negatively affect heart health. The first ways they listed were indirect. Stress contributes to many poor health habits which, in turn, affect the heart. Some people smoke to reduce stress. Some people overeat or eat unhealthy food. Some people suffer through stress that disrupts their lives, leading them to not take their medications as prescribed or to not get enough physical activity or sleep. All of these effects of stress can be factors contributing to poor heart health, especially in combination with each other.
The American Heart Association also indicated how stress can affect heart health more directly. Stress raises blood pressure, which can increase the chance of rupturing arteries, especially those already weakened and constricted with fatty plaque deposits. The ruptured arteries can then clot and potentially clog, leading to heart attack or stroke. When compounded with poor health habits, some of which are encouraged by stress, stress can literally kill you.
Fortunately, the American Heart Association also provides helpful advice for how to reduce chronic stress. This advice includes practicing relaxation techniques and/or a stimulating hobby, getting sufficient exercise and rest, and spending time in nature and/or with family and friends. Unfortunately, much of this advice involves engaging in activities that can be disrupted by stress, which make the stress cycle difficult to break. Yet, framed more positively (another method of reducing stress), doing these activities will reduce our stress and will thus reduce the disruption that makes these activities difficult. The more we exercise, for example, the less stressed we'll be, making it less difficult for us to go and get our exercise. These activities can also be habit-forming, making them easier to maintain once we've managed to get started.
In the meantime, the American Heart Association's "3 Tips to Manage Stress" include their "Top 10 Emergency Stress-Stoppers." It's not the main focus of this discussion board post, but if you occasionally deal with high-stress situations, it might be worth a look. (Link)
Stress can be a vicious cycle, with stress and unhealthy habits contributing to more unhealthiness and more stress. When compounded with unhealthy eating (including stress eating), these bad habit can cause serious health issues, and even death. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce stress and the health issues it causes, and beginning that process can make it easier to continue. So, try to eat healthier, get more exercise, go outside, and do things you love with the ones you love, because those are all ways to live a happier, healthier, and less stressful life.
3. Source: "Stress and Heart Health," American Heart Association. (Link)
And, since I don't have to worry about length requirements or plagiarism here, I might as well share what the American Heart Assiciation's "Top 10 Emergency Stress-Stoppers" are, verbatim:
1. Count to 10 before you speak or react.
2. Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench a bit.
3. Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom and back. It can give you a chance to think things through.
4. Try a quick meditation or prayer to get some perspective.
5. If it’s not urgent, sleep on it and respond tomorrow. This works especially well for stressful emails and social media trolls.
6. Walk away from the situation for a while, and handle it later once things have calmed down.
7. Break down big problems into smaller parts. Take one step at a time.
8. Turn on some chill music or an inspirational podcast to help you deal with road rage.
9. Take a break to pet the dog, hug a loved one or do something to help someone else.
10. Work out or do something active. Exercise is a great antidote for stress.
While I hope that you don't experience too much stress in your life, I know that some of you do, so I hope that this advice, taken from medical professionals, may be of some use to you. I'm sure that some of it will be of use to me. Stress is common and dangerous, especially in today's world, so I'm glad that we have experts who can warn us about such dangers and advise us on how we can overcome them.