Improve your heart health with this one simple choice-choose to manage stress like a stress champion. Simply put, our bodies are designed to cope with stressful situations and learning about the stress response can help us navigate stressful situations with confidence and grace.
We have two main divisions of the nervous system the parasympathetic and sympathetic. The parasympathetic stimulates automatic processes like “rest and digest” and the sympathetic as the “flight or fight”. During times of stress the sympathetic nervous system stimulates the release of hormones from what is referred to as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. (1) These hormones include adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol and angiotensin II. This hormone cocktail causes your heart rate to speed up, increased blood flow to skeletal muscles and raises blood sugar to fuel muscles for the impending fight or flight! But of all these hormones it is the atherosclerotic plaque building impact that Angiotensin II which is we need to lessen stress. (2)
Manage stress like a champion by choosing to set boundaries with stress. Limit the stressor from your life or only allow yourself to toil over the stressor for a determined amount of time and then be willing to bring the stress level down.
Become mindful of your busy mind. If you find yourself hopping on the merry-go-round of stressful thought, then think of something else. Redirect your thoughts to something that is pleasurable or even inconsequential. When I am in the car and find myself frustrated I will immediately find a license plate and read the letters and numbers almost like a chant in my mind, within a minute I have forgotten what set me off in the first place.
Take a few 5-minute yoga breaks throughout the day, this is a great way to keep our bodies active and reduce stress. By focusing on your breath and stretching you can reduce blood pressure, pain, anxiety and depression. Yoga brings with it a treasure house of health wealth. (3)
Give Transcendental Meditation a try! It is a simple meditative technique without any associated belief system that turns the focus of the mind away from the busyness of the world and draws it within to discover the quiet place within your mind. It has been extensively researched with many health benefits such as reducing the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease. (4)
- Saavedra, J. M., & Benicky, J. (2007). Brain and peripheral angiotensin II play a major role in stress. Stress: The International Journal On The Biology Of Stress, 10(2), 185-193. doi:10.1080/10253890701350735
- Kai M Schmidt-Ott, Shuntaro Kagiyama, M.Ian Phillips, The multiple actions of angiotensin II in atherosclerosis, Regulatory Peptides, Volume 93, Issues 1–3, 25 September 2000, Pages 65-77, ISSN 0167-0115, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-0115(00)00178-6. 3. Tiffany Field, Yoga research review, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Volume 24, August 2016, Pages 145-161, ISSN 1744-3881, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.06.005.
- Tiffany Field, Yoga research review, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Volume 24, August 2016, Pages 145-161, ISSN 1744-3881, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.06.005.
- Walton, K. G., Schneider, R. H., & Nidich, S. (2004). Review of Controlled Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program and Cardiovascular Disease: Risk Factors, Morbidity, and Mortality. Retrieved June 06, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2211376/#R21