No one will live through their entire life without having to deal with stress. Unfortunately, it's a natural part of life because there are several events that can cause stress – examples include the death of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, financial hardships and everyday obligations. While we cannot avoid any of these stressful events in our lives, the thing that we can control is the way we react to stress. The way we react to stress is important because our reaction can negatively affect our heart.
As soon as we experience a stressful event, our body's immediate reaction is to do something... Anything! It is just looking for some sort of comfort that will make ourselves feel better in the moment. And often, the following symptoms will indicate that you are experiencing stress:
• Experiencing Aches and Pains
• Lose of Energy or Sleep
Experiencing one of these symptoms will cause your body to release adrenaline; a hormone that will temporarily increase your breathing and heart rate. This increase will cause your blood pressure to rise, forcing your body into a “fight or flight” response. Some “fight or flight” responses can include:
• Excessive Smoking
• Excessive Drinking
• Excessive Eating
• Exerting Too Much Activity
Using one of the following coping mechanisms while your heart rate and blood pressure is increasing can cause harm to your heart in the long term. Unfortunately, these are all habits that we have created without actively trying. So how can we manage our stress and our health? By changing the habits we create. I recommend trying one of the following activities:
The idea behind meditation is to take you out of the situation by focusing on something else. That something else could include your own breathing, soothing music (that can be found on YouTube) or an event you are looking forward to. By taking yourself out of the situation, you give your body a chance to regulate its breathing and heart rate.
2. Light Exercise
I have to stress the word light in this example because I am not recommending you go to the gym. Going to the gym could cause you to work too much, which might cause you to strain your body. I recommend finding a couple of exercises that you enjoy and do one set of ten reps when you start to feel stress. After doing ten reps, you body should start to naturally regulate itself.
3. Reduce Your Workload
This is often easier said than done, but decreasing the amount of work that you need to do can help lower the amount of stress that you have in your life. Looking at a long list of “to dos” can cause a person's heart rate and blood pressure to increase, which is why you should find a way to delegate additional tasks instead of doing something harmful to your health. At the end of the day, if the item does not get done, it will continue to haunt your list.
While we cannot change the fact that we will experience stress in our lives, we can certainly change the way we react to them. Changing our negative habits will help us control our heart rate and blood pressure. Meditation, Light Exercising and Reducing Your Workload are three good ideas to get yourself started. Do you have a different healthy coping mechanism that works for you? If so, share it in the comments section.