Stress, Stress Go Away!

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Let’s face it, too much stress is bad for the heart. Stress is a contributing factor to many, if not all health problems, but since it is Heart Month, let’s focus on how it affects the heart and how we can learn to fight stress.

If you're often stressed, and you don't have good ways to manage it, you are more likely to have high blood pressure, higher cholesterol levels, damage to your arteries, chest pain, irregular heartbeats, or the development and progression of coronary artery disease. Studies have linked stress to changes in the way blood clots, which makes a heart attack more likely.

The way you handle stress also matters. If you respond to it in unhealthy ways -- such as smoking, drinking alcohol, overeating, or not exercising -- that makes matters worse. On the other hand, if you exercise, connect with people, and find meaning despite the stress, that makes a difference in your emotions and in your body.

There is much truth in the old Chinese proverb - “When the heart is at ease, the body is healthy.”

Top 10 Emergency Stress-Stoppers from the AHA

Emergency stress stoppers are actions to help you defuse stress in the moment. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations, and sometimes it helps to combine them. Here are some ideas:

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1.     Count to 10 before you speak or react.

2.     Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench a bit.

3.     Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom and back. It can help break the tension and give you a chance to think things through.

4.     Try a quick meditation or prayer to get some perspective.

5.     If it’s not urgent, sleep on it and respond tomorrow. This works especially well for stressful emails and social media trolls.

6.     Walk away from the situation for a while and handle it later once things have calmed down.

7.     Break down big problems into smaller parts. Take one step at a time, instead of trying to tackle everything at once.

8.     Turn on some chill music or an inspirational podcast to help you deal with road rage.

9.     Take a break to pet the dog, hug a loved one or do something to help someone else.

10. Work out or do something active. Movement and exercise is a great antidote for stress.


*Disclaimer: This is a BLOG, which contains opinions and does not reflect the opinion or official message of Nature’s Edge®. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at any time and without notice.

Valentine's Day, Love and a Healthy Heart

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Love is so vital to the health of our heart, our body, our mind, and our soul. Every thought we have, every feeling we feel causes “an instantaneous cascade of hundreds, if not thousands, of neuropeptides and hormones that orchestrate a symphony of positive and negative effects within the body. That is why it is so important to pay close attention to the thoughts and emotions that are running through your mind, as they dictate the symphony of neurotransmitters playing in your body.”1

As we explore cardiovascular health, our emotional and spiritual heart is just as important as our physical heart, and care must be given to the whole.

Holistic health practitioner and Los Angeles cardiologist, Cynthia Thaik, M.D., offers a unique approach to the art and science of your heart. The following is from her My Healthy Lifestyle Blog and offers us so much more on the LOVE and HEALTHY HEART connection.

Ways That Love Benefits Your Health:

1.     Love improves self-esteem, which leads to better self-care. Self-love is key because when you love yourself, you are much more likely to engage in activities that contribute to better nutrition and physical fitness, and less likely to make unhealthy lifestyle choices.

2.     Love is a great antidote to stress. Love counteracts the fight-or-flight response that we so often find ourselves in. Even low levels of stress cause the body to release cortisol, which is associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and depression. Love downregulates the production of cortisol. Love encourages your body to produce oxytocin, the “feel-good” or “love” hormone. Oxytocin can reduce cardiovascular stress and improve the immune system, which in turn decreases cell death and inflammation. Love also causes the production in your brain of norepinephrine and dopamine (both hormones associated with adrenaline), which leads to increased feelings of joy and pleasure. Love really is your best medicine.

3.     Love decreases anxiety and staves off depression, which subsequently reduces the signs and symptoms of heart disease. In his book Love and Survival: Eight Pathways to Intimacy and Health, Dean Ornish, M.D describes one study where married men who suffered from angina (chest pains) experienced far less angina if they felt loved by their wives, even despite high risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

4.     Love decreases inflammation, improves your immune system, and can be a potent pain reliever. A recent study from the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University College of Medicine showed that people who are lonely develop more reactivation of latent viruses than those that are well connected. Possible mechanisms for these actions include increased release of cytokines, better relaxation and the release of endorphins

5.     Sleeping next to someone you love makes you feel more relaxed, which helps you to sleep better. Numerous studies have linked the benefits to the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Adequate rest is vital to heart health and overall well-being, as much of the reparative work of the body is done during sleep.

Not just at Valentine’s Day, but all year around, it is important to remind yourself that there is so much more to love than just romantic love. There is love of life, love of nature, love of animals, love of others, and love of self, and all of these acts of love provide amazing health benefits.

Ways to Incorporate Love Into Your Life

1.     Be more loving and giving. Bring happiness and joy into other people’s lives. Be generous with your time and money; be a person of increase. You can do this through volunteerism and altruism. I challenge everyone to do one random act of kindness today, even if it is as simple as smiling at someone.

2.     Hug often and hold hands. Physical contact in a loving and nurturing way has the ability to instantly improve your mood, lower stress levels and put you at ease. Try to hug at least one person you love every day.

3.     Be more playful in your loving relationship and make love often. Remind your partner about how much you care for them, and make time for them, no matter how busy you are.

4.     Love life — bring more joy into your life each day. Flirt with life... laugh, dance, sing. One way to manifest this is to allow yourself to really laugh without holding anything back and simply enjoy this pure laughter.

5.     Love yourself and be kind to yourself today. Treat yourself like you would another person who you are truly in love with. The more you love yourself, the better equipped you will be to love others. And the more love you give, the more you will receive.

 

1Dr. Cynthia Thaik, Love Heals! The Blog, 5/7/2013


 

*Disclaimer: This is a BLOG, which contains opinions and does not reflect the opinion or official message of Nature’s Edge®. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at any time and without notice.