In this fast-paced world we find it’s pretty hard to slow down. Everyday stressors are the norm and although some stress is good, too much can hurt the body not only mentally but physically as well. Work, family, finances and everything in between can start to take a toll on your health. As a mom of two preschoolers, a wife, a business owner, and a caregiver for my mother with dementia I know a little something about being overstretched and stressed out. I will be completely honest that sometimes I manage my stress well, and sometimes I most definitely don't, but I know that when I prioritize stress management as part of my day it is always better no matter what comes.
Below are tips that not only help to reduce stress but are good for heart health as well in small celebration of American Heart Month this month. These are all stress reducing techniques that I strive to implement myself. Try to implement at least one thing on this list (or your own list!) on a daily basis and see how stress treats you moving ahead!
Not only is exercise a good way to relieve stress, but is great for strengthening the heart as well. Try getting some sort of physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. Focus on activities that get your heart pumping. Exercise will reduce your stress and improve your overall health short term and long term.
Give yourself a break
It is easy to forget to give yourself time to relax when you’re busy taking care of others. Schedule time devoted to yourself and what relaxes and makes you happy. Go for a walk, read a book or take a bath. These activities can calm you and clear your head.
Meditation and deep breathing has the power to slow your body and mind down. Try meditating for even just five minutes a day. Practice deep breathing to help lower your heart rate. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and handling too much, meditation is a great way to slow down.
Break your habits
Consistent stress can lead to unhealthy habits such as drinking too much alcohol and smoking. Although you may feel these substances help you cope in the moment, the long term damage far outweighs the short term benefits. Both smoking and alcohol can cause heart damage. Turn to alternatives if you’re reaching for a cigarette or a drink and reach out to family and friends to help you break the habit.
Acupuncture is an effective alternative medicine that can help improve heart health as well as lower stress. By the specific placement of needles on acupuncture points, the treatment works to treat the entire body back to optimal health. Acupuncture can help reduce blood pressure, decrease stress and improve sleep. Acupuncture for stress specifically has been shown to actually decrease stress hormones in the blood stream almost immediately.
Massage therapy is another alternative treatment that is beneficial in lowering stress. The treatment has been shown to reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure and increase blood circulation. Through manual manipulation, massage can relax not only the body but the mind as well.
It can be hard to accept that things in life don’t go exactly as planned. Practice letting go of what you can’t control and accepting that the future is unknown. It is easy to stress about the future. Remind yourself to live in the moment.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.