Inevitable traffic paired with a bad public transportation system, forgetting a birthday of a loved one, the upcoming Christmas season but your budget just can’t cut it and a next day deadline and the paper is not half done, I could come up with a million more stressful things people experience regularly. Today, living means practically having to deal with stress as a daily encounter. But don’t fret! There is a way to deal with stress and plow your energy into something positive.
This built in fight or flight response is designed to keep us alive in times of grave danger. But as ingenious as our bodies may be, it cannot tell the difference between having to run away from a dangerous animal and that job application you desperately want to top. Stress is stress, no matter the cause and our response includes tachycardia, suppression of immune and digestive functions and elevated blood pressure. The only problem why these unseen threats of every life are so deadly is because they last for days or months. That duration can really take its toll on the body and the mind.
Studies have shown that the pathogenesis and etiology of cardiovascular diseases stem from a chronic inflammatory process caused by our stress response. Lower your risk of avertible lifestyle diseases through these simple tips.
- Walk your Worries Away
Everyone’s heard this before: Take the stairs instead of the elevator, its good for the heart. That isn’t a claim that came out of thin air, walking is actually really good for your heart. Regular exercise makes the heart stronger, more resilient and more efficient. According to the New York Times, two interval sessions a week can get you fit. But if you can’t fit that into your schedule, brisk walking can do the trick. As long as your increase your heart rate to 70 to 80 percent of your maximal heart rate (220-age), you are already reducing your risk for cardiovascular diseases.
- Get Spiritual
It’s time to connect with yourself and others; time to build your values and search for the meaning of life. Stress is a cycle that gains momentum if one is disconnected from nature, self and a higher power. In order to break this cycle, you should find peace and quiet while taking care of your body. Find an environment wherein you feel sanctuary. Reflect on your reactions. Realize if you are overreacting or if there is a better way to manage the way you react to life stressors. Add a little yoga, t’ai chi or meditations to your daily routine. And more importantly, trust in a higher power. Believe that things will work out sooner or later.
- Shoo the Sadness
According to Dr. Ziegelstein, people with depression develop heart disease at a higher rate than the general population. This is because of the increased levels of cortisol leading to inflammation. The inevitable life stressors can really drain us mentally and emotionally- that long wait to the MRT, the tension in waiting for the licensure exam result and that uncertainty of whether or not we will be able to pay for our next rent. More than we realize, these threats impact us negatively and the only way we can benefit from these is if we turn these instances into opportunities to feel empowered and energized. Challenge yourself. Read that novel while you wait. Review the things you didn’t understand before. Don’t stay and ponder on the things you wish you had instead. Make a change.
- Gift of Touch
Some prefer massage or some form of therapy to reduce tension. And there are lots of options to choose from. But if you don’t want to spend or even if you don’t believe in acupuncture and reflexology, a hug can go a long way. Hugging increases the levels of oxytocin which decreases stress levels and increases heart health. It can even boost your immune system. According to Paul Zak, known as Dr. Love, we need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth. Don’t be frugal when it comes to hugs! Give and receive!
- Hang loose and Unwind
While we want that weekend getaway after a stressful month at work, it would be of great help if you can master the art of relaxation. No, I don’t mean mastering the art of being a couch potato and finishing all the seasons of friends in one weekend. What I mean by knowing how to relax is altering your response to pressures all around you. It takes strategy, skill and practice to relax. Start working on your deep breathing and meditations. These definitely change your stress response- decreasing blood pressure, heart rate and tension. By having this ability, you already have a powerful tool to cope with life.
Diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.