What You Should Know About Managing Stress EffectivelyThursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:54
Life's events are not in themselves stressful, but our reactions to those events can leave us feeling "stressed out." Some people enjoy a fast-paced life with many challenges. For these people, slow, uneventful periods in their lives may be more stressful than challenging ones. Other people can become overwhelmed by a constant stream of pressure, demands, and lack of time. The key appears to be how we view and react to situations.
A growing collection of studies indicates that stress adversely affects heart health. It is not yet clear whether stress itself increases the risk of coronary heart disease, or if it simply exacerbates other risk factors. Some people may react to stress by overeating, smoking, or growing depressed and exercising less.
Studies show that stress may be especially harmful if it involves the following:
- Frequent feelings of hostility, anger, and suspicion of the world around you
- Being caught in situations where you have little control over the demands place on you
- Having a low level of social support from family and friends
- Experiencing major life events such as divorce, illness, or job loss
Stress can increase some people's risk for heart disease because it:
- Temporarily increases blood pressure or helps to keep blood pressure high
- Interferes with the ability to make other healthful changes such as stopping smoking, exercising, or eating a healthier diet
Symptoms of stress can include the following:
- Sweaty hands, tight muscles, or clenched jaw
- Inability to sleep at night or wanting to sleep too much during the day
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Feeling short-tempered or easily upset
- Feeling continually rushed
- Decreased social interaction with friends and family
Need To Know:
Is stress harmful for you?
Some people may enjoy a life full of pressure and deadlines. Since stress is not always bad, how do you know if it is bad for you? To help you find out, answer the following questions:
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, stress may be interfering with your ability to adopt a lifestyle that is healthful for your heart.
Now, answer the following three questions:
If you answered yes to any of the last three questions, you may have the type of cynical mistrust and hostility that experts think may increase risk for coronary heart disease.
How you can manage stress
People who are able to manage stress do three things well:
Here are some suggestions to help you cope with stress in your life:
If the above suggestions do not help relieve your stress, or if you frequently feel angry at the world, you may need to seek outside help in dealing with stress. Your physician can refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in dealing with stress-related anxiety, or look for courses in stress management.
For more information about managing stress, go to Stress And How-To Manage It.