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Stress management for a healthier heart... and a
happier life!

Suffering from chronic stress? Here are some stress management techniques that anyone can use and benefit from.

We all recognize that stress management is a good thing - even a necessary thing - but in today's world, how do you do it?

And, everyone experiences stressful situations in their lives, yet as Pamela Peake says in her book Fit to Live the problem isn't so much the stressful situations - it's our distress as a reaction. Distress is when we're feeling helpless, hopeless, or defeated.

The effects of chronic stress can be serious. It can lead to elevated blood pressure. Acute stress can lead to blockage of the arteries. Mental stress can decrease the electrical stability of the heart, which can lead to arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest.

But to put things in perspective, let's remember that stress is very personal. What causes distress for one person may be invigorating for another. The first step is to understand the sources of stress in your life and then to learn to use the tips and techniques that are most appropriate for each situation and for you.

Stress Management Tips

"For fast acting relief, try slowing down."
Lily Tomlin

Keep a balance in your life. Make sure you plan time for for the things that are important to you - be it family, fitness, leisure, socializing, and hobbies. If you have heart disease, you've had a wake up call. This is your chance to make some changes.

Recognize what you can change and what you can't. Change the things you can and learn to accept the things you can't.

Learn to say no. If you are like me, you find it difficult to say no when someone asks to you do something or be involved in something. In order to keep a balance in your life, sometimes you just have to say "no." Now you have a reason - you have your health to keep in mind.

When you are feeling stressed:

  • Breathe deeply. This will get more oxygen into your system.
  • Get some exercise. Take a walk. Go for acycle Do some yoga. Participate in a sport, or engage in a fun activity. Exercise releases endorphins into your system - a natural sedative capable of relieving pain in a manner similar to that of morphine.
  • Stretch. A good stretch can promote mental and physical relaxation.
  • Get a good night's rest. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. Keeping a regular schedule will help your body expect sleep at the same time each day.
  • Eat healthily. Putting good fuel in your body will help you cope more effectively.

  • Listen to soothing music. My mother loved to listen to Oscar Peterson's album "Round Midnight" as a way to relax. I love listening to Enya or music from the Baroque. Others like to listen to soothing music with the sounds of the ocean or birds singing. It doesn't matter what the music is, as long as you find it soothing and relaxing.
  • Visualize a place that is peaceful and tranquil. I imagine sunsets in Mexico!
  • Get a massage.
  • Listen to a relaxation CD and practice relaxation techniques.
  • Take a nap.
  • Have a warm bath.
  • Read a book or watch an uplifting movie.
  • Talk to a trusted friend about your problems - getting things off your chest can be very helpful.

What about pets and stress management?
While pets aren't for everyone and not every pet is a joy to have (in fact some pets create stress), recent research shows that pets can help reduce stress. For example, pets are great listeners! They don't talk back, and their love is unconditional (well, as long as you feed them). Research actually shows that, when conducting a stressful task, people experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a supportive friend or even their spouse was present!

Are you stressed at work?
Although we spend most of our waking hours at work, for many of us it's not a healthy place to be. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to be dealing with high levels of job associated stress. See our strategies to help you find some work stress relief.

Other Resources

There are many stress related websites. One that we think is particularly good and offers a wide range of useful information is Check it out.

What stress management techniques have helped you? Send us your tips.

For Stress Management We Recommend:
An easy read, but packed with compelling success stories and the strategies you need for successful mind-body-spirit management.

A highly recommended book by both psychologists and lay people alike.

Ten simple techniques to help anyone avoid anxiety-related problems and feel more vibrant and healthy by managing stress.

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