Don’t stress out, it hurts your heart.

Mind & Spirit

Here’s another reason not to sweat the small stuff – stress hurts your heart! A recent study confirmed findings of a 2004 study linking higher perceived stress levels with an increased risk of heart attack.

While it’s too early to call stress an independent risk factor for heart attack or stroke, it clearly plays a role. And it’s only the latest in a long line of research that stress is bad for your health.

Here are some basic steps to better stress management:

  • Take a break from your stressor—mentally and physically. Take a walk, do something else for a few minutes. You will be able to return to the stressful activity, conversation or problem with a fresh perspective.
  • Try breathing exercises, like pursed-lip breathing. It can slow your heart rate, calming both your body and mind. Even just taking about a dozen deep breaths can help.
  • Physical exercise. Just a 20-minute walk will help if you’re feeling stressed. But for the biggest benefits, try for 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week.
  • Meditate. Like exercise, meditation provides both immediate stress relief and overall stress reduction when performed regularly.
  • Relax your muscles. Releasing muscle tension can help release stress.
  • Chew gum. Studies have found that it reduces level of cortisol (the stress hormone).
  • Have a banana. It sounds strange, but bananas have a great mix of potassium, water and nutrient to rev up energy and reduce anxiety.
  • Wake up and smell the coffee. A ten-minute head start can help you avoid a lot of daily stressors while the smell of coffee can give you as much kick as the coffee itself. Which is good because too much caffeine and alcohol can make stress worse.

About The Study

This time, researchers looked at the brain itself, following 293 patients who were getting brain scans for non-heart-related reasons for the next three to four years. They then compared the brain scans of people who later had a heart attack or stroke to those in the study group that did not.

They found that an area of the brain, called the amygdala, was far more active in people who had later heart attacks or strokes than in those that didn’t. The amygdala is often called the fear center of the brain, but it is also linked to other forms of stress.

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