Reducing Stress for Heart and Brain Health
Through American Heart Month, we’ve been discussing some of the helpful steps you can take to improve heart health. And coincidentally, many of those things also improve your brain health.
This week we want to talk about stress. No, you can’t avoid it completely, but it can take a toll on your heart and your brain. Here’s a closer look at how stress affects heart and brain health, and a few tips you can use to better manage stress.
Stress and Your Heart
Consistent stress can have harmful physical effects on your body, and it’s even been linked to heart problems. While experts aren’t entirely sure how chronic stress causes heart issues, it’s likely that stress increases inflammation, which is known to cause heart trouble. Stress can also result in unhealthy behaviors that increase your risk of heart trouble, such as smoking, eating unhealthy foods, or drinking excessively.
Stress and Your Brain
Stress isn’t just bad for your heart. Chronic stress raises levels of cortisol, and studies show that individuals with higher cortisol levels perform worse on cognitive tasks. Higher levels of cortisol were also associated with reduced brain size in middle-aged people.
Tips for Managing Stress
The bottom line, chronic stress can negatively affect your heart and brain health. While you can’t totally banish stress from your life, there are some ways to manage it to reduce its adverse effects on your body.
- Tip #1 – Exercise – We’ve already talked about the heart and brain benefits of exercising, and exercise also reduces stress. It results in the release of endorphins, chemicals that boost your mood and lower stress levels.
- Tip #2 – Meditate – Deep breathing and meditation have been found to relax both the body and mind, and they can reduce some of the risk factors for heart problems.
- Tip #3 – Stay Positive – A positive attitude and laughter can lower stress hormone levels.
- Tip #4 – Unplug – Take time to pursue hobbies like listening to music, pursuing a sport, or reading a book to reduce stress.
- Tip #5 – Foster Healthy Relationships – Healthy, supportive relationships can help you manage stress levels and give you a healthy way to unplug.
Stress has the potential to affect your body in numerous ways, but by managing it effectively, you can prevent it from damaging your heart and brain health. Put these tips into practice and let us know how they work for you.
Stay tuned, we’ll be offering more great tips and advice to improve your brain health in our March emails.