Is family stress hurting your heart?

woman stress home

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

We now know that chronic stress is a very real risk factor in developing heart disease. And stress in the home – where, ironically, we all long to find a safe place to fall – can be the most insidious and difficult to address, especially for families with children still at home, and for women suffering from Type E personalities:  Everything to Everybody”. Sound familiar? 

According to Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation, it can be difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle if your life is stressful. Instead of being physically active to relieve stress, you may respond by overeating, eating unhealthy foods, consuming too much alcohol or smoking – reactions that can increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

“Responding to stress with anger can also be harmful, since it sets off a series of physiological changes including increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure levels that can increase your chance of having a heart attack. People who are prone to anger are also more likely to turn to unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and overeating.”

Here are some stress-busting tips from the HSF:

  • Identify the source of your stress. Figure out what is really bothering you – it’s the first step in managing your stress.
  • Be physically active. Start with brisk walking – just 30 minutes three times a week is a great start. can be a great stress-buster and can boost your heart health, too. Be sure to talk to your physician before starting any activity program.
  • Share your feelings. Talking to friends, family or co-workers can help you feel better.
  • Take time for yourself. In trying to meet everyone else’s needs, don’t short-change yourself.
  • Make time to laugh. It’s your body’s natural stress-release mechanism.
  • Eat well. Don’t skip meals because hunger can leave you vulnerable to stress.
  • Take your vacations. Getting away from it all is important to your mental and physical health.

For more information, read Coping with Stress.


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