February 17, 2021

Stress Less for a Healthier Heart

 

It’s Heart Month! Apex Benefits and Indy Eleven have teamed up to bring you fun heart-healthy videos all month long for reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Soccer players are some of the more elite and fit athletes on the planet. We can’t imagine anyone more appropriate — like Indy Eleven Goalkeeper Jordan Farr — to provide inspiration for handling the good and bad stress on the field and in life.

Now, your health goals don’t need to be the same as a world-class athlete’s. Every step toward being more active, eating more healthily and focusing on mental health and self-care is a step toward lowering your risk and changing your life. Read on for more information!

Tips to Keep Your Heart in Shape

A 2018 study released by the American Psychological Association found that 74% of adults reported experiencing at least one physical or emotional symptom due to stress. Everyone feels stressed from time to time, but why is stress so harmful to our hearts?

Stress is how the brain and body respond to any type of demand. It’s also commonly associated with mental health and can affect your physical health as it’s shown to be a contributor to heart disease as well. Increased stress can impact blood pressure, cause anxiety and depression and lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices. So, what can you do about it? Let’s start with the basics and learn some key facts about stress, provided by the National Institute of Mental Health. See below.

 

  1. Stress affects everyone. Stress affects everyone but is very different for each of us. A stressor may be a one-time or short occurrence or could happen repeatedly over a long period of time. What is stressful for one person may or may not be stressful for another; we each respond to our individual stressors in different ways.
  2. Not all stress is bad. We’ve been told that zero stress makes us happy and healthy. That’s not entirely true. Stress can be the kiss of death or spice of life – it’s all about how you manage it. Managed stress makes us productive and happy; mismanaged stress hurts and could lead to harmful detriments to our overall health.
  3. Long-term stress can harm your health. When stress is not properly managed, it can lead to chronic stress and coping with the impact of chronic stress can be challenging. With chronic stress, health risks such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and depression are more likely to occur. You become more at risk by leaving stress mismanaged.
  4. There are ways to manage stress. There are many ways to relieve stress but what may work for some, may not work for others. You have to find what works best for you. A few examples of what could help include journaling/writing down your stressor(s), incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine, finding reasons to laugh and find joy, getting enough sleep each night and talking to a trusted friend.
  5. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a health professional. You should seek help right away if you begin to feel overwhelmed, lose ability to cope, have suicidal thoughts, or are using drugs and alcohol more frequently as a result of stress. Your doctor or trusted professional may be able to provide a recommendation. You can also seek help through your employer’s Employee Assistance Program that usually has free resources and the opportunity to speak with a counselor.

 

Looking to relieve some stress? Write down the stress you’re feeling this week to express on paper and then follow it up with three things you’re grateful for.

 

Weekly Recipe

White Bean Hummus Wraps with Avocado and Bell Pepper

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Sarah Michaels

Authored By

Sarah Michaels , RN

Director of Kinetiq Health
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