In our busy world today, it is nearly impossible to avoid stress. It’s all around us, all the time – from the pings of text messages and emails, to endless after-school activities, to simply not feeling like we have enough time or opportunity to un-plug and relax in the midst of the chaos. Did you know that stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, even in teens and young adults? Taking steps today, even small steps, to release some stress in your life will have long-lasting benefits on your heart health!
In honor of National Heart Month this February, the American Heart Association has some tips for learning to manage stress in your life:
- 1. Talk with family and friends. A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys and ask them to share theirs.
- 2. Engage in daily physical activity. Regular physical activity can relieve mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Try walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.
- Embrace the things you are able to change. Change happens in small steps! We are never too old to learn something new, work toward a goal, or love and help others.
- Remember to laugh. Laughter makes us feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when we’re alone.
- Give up the bad habits. Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase blood pressure. If you smoke, decide to quit now
. If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Slow down. Try to “pace” instead of “race.” Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done without having to rush.
- Get enough sleep. Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can’t sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep and life in general.
- Get organized. Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.
- Practice giving back. Volunteer your time or spend time helping out a friend. Helping others helps you.
- Try not to worry. The world won’t end if your grass isn’t mowed or your kitchen isn’t cleaned. You may need to do these things, but right now might not be the right time.
Remember, change happens slowly! We won’t get rid of all the stress in our lives or magically be able to handle it better right away. Pick one or two things on this list that you know you can do. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert at finding ways to relax in the midst of stress! Find more tips here on how to manage stress in your life.