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Thursday, March 28, 2013

What is stress doing to your heart?

We all know the mantra for staying healthy: eat right and exercise regularly.  But what about adding "manage stress" to that list?  Several studies have recently shown that stress (and the hormones released by your body when you're feeling stressed out) can increase your risk for heart disease.  One study in particular found that stress, especially when related to the workplace, can lead to Coronary Heart Disease - an actual buildup of plaque in the arteries.  That's serious!

So what can you do to manage your stress and reduce your risk?  Well, one company President, after undergoing heart surgery at age 38 (which he attributes to a high-paced, extremely stressful career), decided to start a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of maintaining a stressful lifestyle.  In the linked article, Flip Flop Shops President Brian Curin offers several tips to manage stress, mostly centered around his personal motto: pace, not race!  We agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly, and wanted to add a couple of our own suggestions to that list:

 - Get involved in a creative endeavor.  Multiple studies (including one by Harvard Medical School) have shown that knitting, crocheting, or doing other creative activities can relieve stress by invoking what's known as the relaxation response - the same reaction many people have to proven relaxation techniques like meditation.  You can engage in any creative act to relieve stress - choose your favorite and get crafting!

 - Get involved in your community.  Finding and strengthening connections with others in your community leads to a sense of purpose and necessity, and contributing your time and energy to a worthy cause with others you care about can take your mind off other stress factors in your life.  You can start a crafting group to make items for the homeless, volunteer at a local animal shelter, or simply host a get-together with friends to relax and enjoy time together.

Whatever you do, remember this: you only have one body, one heart, and one lifetime - so take care of it!


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