It is Thursday night and you find yourself has reached the peak of your stress this week.
You have a report and a presentation that due tomorrow morning so you’ll have to work overtime, missing another dinner at home and your wife will glare at you throughout the night. Wait, actually, you just fought with her on the phone.
She also told you that your son made trouble again at school and that your daughter failed one of her test – it seems like she needs a tutor.
But, with your last failure in an investment attempt, will you have enough money to hire one? Not to mention your parents have been sick lately and you’ll need to support their health care cost.
Ouch, just thinking about it makes your head aches.
You also feel your stomach lurches and your mouth feels bitter.
Your chest feels heavy and hurt a little, so you put your hands on it and you can feel your heart is beating too fast.
Apparently, your stress is not only affecting you mind, but also your body.
Yes, there are many health problems caused by stress.
Headache, stomachache, chest pain, and irregular heart beat are some of them, but they aren’t even the worst health problems caused by stress.
Yes, there are worse diseases that stress can cause you.
One of them are the number one leading cause of death in US: heart disease.
It seems like stress lives up to its reputation as ‘the number one silent killer’.
In US alone, death due to heart disease accounts to 40% from all other causes. It is more than death causes by cancer and stroke. And stress can be a major cause for this heart disease.
But, don’t be afraid.
Heart disease is one of the health problems caused by stress.
So, if you handle your stress well, you can prevent the disease from yourself.
There are many ways to do this, and we will show you the most helpful ones.
Here, we’ve compiled information regarding stress and its connection to heart disease so you’ll be armed to fight your stress.
We’ll also tell you how to prevent health problems caused by stress.
We should start with the most important explanation below: how does stress actually make your heart sick?
We know that stress is perhaps the most underrated of all our heart disease risk factor. (Michael Miller)
Heart disease: health problems caused by stress
Actually, scientists and medical community still aren’t sure how stress directly affect heart health.
What they are sure is there is a connection between stress and heart disease. They found that highly stressed people are more likely to get heart disease than people with lower level of stress.
The explanation that is accepted for now is that stress itself bring bad change to your body. Stress cause your blood pressure to go up as it prepare you for ‘fight or flight’ reaction.
As another ‘fight or flight’ response, your blood are naturally directed more to your brain, leaving less supply of them for your heart. This makes your heart beat irregularly.
Less blood for heart also makes it easier for your blood to clots. Blood clot can block the blood flow to the heart, prompting a heart attack.
Other than that, if the stress is constant, your body will have an abnormally high level of stress hormone like adrenaline and cortisol – which can be unhealthy.
So, what can we do about that?
Since the one that causing those symptoms are stress itself, then there’s no other way except to reduce your stress.
Take time to evaluate your stress. How bad is it? Can you manage it alone at home with stress reduction guide? Or you will need support from professional?
There are many ways to relieve your stress. For low to mild level of stress, you can do stress relief routine at home easily with:
- Changing your diet into healthy one
- Getting enough sleep
- Practicing mind control – such as mindfullness or meditation
Although they doesn’t sound much – but they have been proven effective by various research. You can get to know more detail of them in other articles in this blog.
For higher level of stress, you will need help from people who understand about stress more than you: the professional. Look for the best counsellor near your area and contact them.
Don’t be shy or reluctant to ask help from other people. After all, health problems caused by stress is a serious thing.
Did you know?
- A person whose parent or sibling suffer from heart disease before age 60 is almost 10 times more likely to suffer the same disease in earlier age
- A person who sleep five hours or less in a night is 39% more likely to develop heart disease than those who sleeps for eight hours.
- A person who live alone are twice as likely to have heart attack than those who live with partner or rommate.
- A person who is unhappy (suffers from anxiety or depression) are more likely to get heart attack and stroke.
How bad stress relief habit makes your heart sick
There’s another popular explanation to the relationship between stress and heart health.
It is less about the stress itself that causing heart disease…
… and more about how you deal with stress.
There are positive and negative ways to deal with stress. The negative ways – like smoking, overeating, abusing drugs, and drinking alcohol – are the notoriously bad habit that already have reputation to affect one’s health.
For example, smoking increase your blood pressure and may even damage artery walls.
Overeating and unhealthy diet can lead you to have high cholesterol level in your blood. Overly high cholesterol can blocks your artery, preventing blood to flow to the heart and causing heart attack.
Other negative habits are just as dangerous. So, because heart disease is one of the health problems caused by stress, you shouldn’t fall into one of those bad stress relief routine.
But what if you’re already into one?
Stop the habit
First thing first, you should wean yourself from it. Of course, it’s easier to say. After all, there is proverb that says it’s nothing’s harder to break than a habit.
- Cut down
Cutting it off completely may give your body a withdrawal symptoms that may torture you, so you can do it gradually.
For example, if you’re used to drink alcohol everyday, now limit it only three times a week, then proceeds to only drinking at weekend.
- Do it together
Sharing a commitment with family or friends will give you a boost of commitment. Ask them to keep you from going back to the old habit. Tell them to praise and reward you when you’re success and remind you when you make mistake.
- Keep a record
Writing your progress can increase your motivation because you can see that you gradually move from the old you, even if only a bit.
- Join rehab
If your bad stress relief is not only a habit but an addiction, you should consider to join a rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation program will be more effective for you because there are other people who will remind you whenever your resolution weakens.
Remove stress from the body and the body regenerates itself. You can heal yourself. (Rhonda Byrne)
Second, distract yourself from bad routine to more positive one.
There are many stress relief habit that are more fun and beneficial than your bad habit:
- Walking out in nature
- Make arts
- Perform arts
- Play sport
- Take a vacation
I know that they look ‘lame’ and ‘weak’ compared to alcohol or cigarettes. If you’re used to alcohol, I can imagine you raise your eyebrow when you read my suggestion to ‘walk out in nature’ to relieve your stress.
But, we suggest those alternatives because researches have been conducted to study their effect to stress reduction and they work.
So, don’t be skeptic and try them out!
Unplug and have quiet time
Many cause of stress that ends affecting your health is because there’s too many informations going inside your mind and not enough time to proceed and sort them out.
Limit the information by unplugging your devices. Avoid emails and TV news. Avoid twitter. The duration can be one hour a day or even a full day every week, depends on the severity of your information overload.
Try with one hour a day first, then if you still needs more serenity, you can increase the duration.
Connect to people
Talking to people relieve your bottled feeling and burden, and it can ease your mind much more than you think. Beside, when you share your misery with other people, it can even turn into comedy.
When you laugh with people, it lower your stress hormone, reduce inflammation in arteries, and increase good cholesterol.
Diet affect your mood and mental health. When you’re eating good for nothing food like junk food, you’re more susceptible to get health problem later. To avoid both decreasing mood and physical health, make sure your diet is good for you.
Experts recommend to eat more of:
- fruits and vegetables, particularly the colorful ones
- fibers from whole grains
- protein and omega 3 came from fishes and poultry
- good fat from olive oil, fish oil, and nuts
And also to eat less of:
- trans fat from red meat, deep fried food and fast food
- packaged food, especially those who are dripped in sodium and sugar
- white bread and refined grains
- processed meat like sausage, salami, bacon, also yogurt with additives
It’s not stress that kills us. It is our reaction to it. (Hans Selye)
Are you ready for a healthy, stress-free heart?
So, turns out that your stress and health are actually related – if one goes bad, the other follows.
It is true that there are many health problems caused by stress, and one of them is heart disease.
That’s why, you shouldn’t ignore your stress because that would be the same as you ignoring your own health. That would also same as you ignoring your own heart.
Stress itself affect health, so you should make effort to reduce your stress or the things that cause you stress.
How you deal with stress also affect your health. If you engage in negative stress relief, those bad relief can worsen your health instead of relieve your stress!
After knowing all of this, I hope you are ready to lead a healthy life – both mentally and physically.
What do you think? Are your stress starting to interfere with your health? Do you ever experience your stress affecting your body? Do you think you have health problems caused by stress?
Share your story with us in the comment section below.