Everyone has experienced stress at some point in their life. Stress typically occurs when we are unable to meet the demands being placed on us, whether this be at work or in our personal lives.
Whilst short-term stress is a normal response to pressure or increased demand, a prolonged increase in stress levels can have negative effects on our health and wellbeing. Whilst stress alone won’t increase your risk of developing heart disease, the choices we make when we’re stressed, which can include overeating, drinking alcohol and lack of exercise, can have a negative impact on our heart health. Stress will also raise blood pressure levels which, if prolonged, may start to damage the heart and arteries. However, once feelings of stress pass, increased blood pressure levels will usually reduce and therefore the best way to address this increase is through prevention and management of stress levels.
Here are some tips for doing just that:
- Exercise Regularly
Whilst exercise can be one of the first things to drop out of our routine in times of stress, research indicates that exercise can reduce levels of stress and anxiety.
- Rest and Recover
Taking time out of the day to re-charge, whether it be going for a short walk or doing something you enjoy, can be important for preventing burnout, resulting from a chronic overload of demand.
- Question Unhelpful Thinking
Sometimes our thought patterns can be unhelpful in increasing our stress levels, such as when we ruminate over a problem, or catastrophise a situation. Questioning our thinking can sometimes be useful for stopping stress in it’s tracks.
- Support Others
Research indicates that both connecting with and helping others can be great for our mental wellbeing. In particular, activities such as volunteering can give a sense of purpose outside of our work.
- Learn Something New
Learning a new skill can help to give a sense of purpose and can also be a great distraction tool when stress levels are particularly high.