When you think of cardiovascular health oftentimes the same tips come to mind to help prevent heart problems ? daily exercise, practice good nutrition and quit smoking. One of the greatest tips though that is often overlooked and rarely practiced in today?s society is reduction in stress. We live in a fast-paced environment with a lot of people and a lot of traffic, making daily commutes a pain causing stress on the way to and from work. So what do you do to avoid the stress in your life?
One of my favorite books that I highly recommend is Why Zebras Don?t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky. While the title is catchy, it gives a great explanation as to how stress can cause adverse effects on one?s body and mind. Without getting too detailed, let?s just say the act of feeling stress sets off a chain reaction in one?s body where hormones get released causing an increase in breathing and heart rates, causing blood pressure to rise. These physical reactions allow you to deal with the situation by causing a ?fight or flight? response. When stress is constant, your body remains on ?high alert? never allowing your body to relax and the harmful hormonal reaction to dissipate. This consistent rise in hormones that increase heart rate and blood pressure may potentially cause damage to the arterial walls.
So what can you do?
The American Heart Association has some tips for positive healthy habits to develop:
1. Talk with family and friends
2. Daily physical activity ? physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning
3. Accept the things you cannot change
4. Remember to laugh ? it really is the best medicine
5. Give up the bad habits ? too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase stress and not allow the body to properly ?relax?
6. Slow down
7. Get enough sleep
8. Get organized
9. Practice giving back
10. Try not to worry
See AHA‘s website on more helpful tips.
As the New Year begins, make sure you make time in your hectic life to find something that you enjoy to help relieve stress.
In the meantime, take a couple of minutes to watch an incredible Ted Talk by psychologist Kelly McGonigal on how to make stress your friend!
Dr. Ali Perez, DC, ART?
Doctor of Chiropractic, Sterling
?To be the trusted leader in enriching the health and well-being of the public, one life at a time.?