By Albee Bockman, AEMT-P
I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!!!
There is nothing more stressful than the stress of the holidays. Whether it’s shopping for gifts, a visit from relatives, or the cold of winter, these stressors can take a toll on our bodies – – especially our heart. Additionally, not only heart ATTACK; but also heart ACHE and heart BREAK!
All kidding aside, EMOTIONAL STRESS plays a significant role in heart attacks because of the adrenal hormone “cortisol”. Known commonly as the “Stress Hormone”, cortisol influences and regulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress including, but not limited to, blood pressure, central nervous system, heart and blood vessel tone and contraction. Too much or too little of this vital hormone can wreak havoc on our bodies leading to heart disease.
Luckily, there are five simple lifestyle choices that will reduce stress and anxiety:
- Regular physical exercise is #1 on the list. Whether it’s walking, jogging, or biking, a little bit of cardio goes a long way. When you go shopping at ShopRite or Walmart, park a little farther away and walk the distance. Besides, the farther away you park, the less likely someone will hit your car with the shopping cart!!!
- Any type of meditation will help to reduce high levels of cortisol. Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal in the nervous system to slooowww down your heart rate and lower blood pressure. Try it! If you feel stress coming on, just take 10 slow, deep breaths and feel your entire body relax. Those of you willing to try Hypnotherapy, give me a call!
- Socialize. Studies have shown that social aggression and isolation lead to increased levels of cortisol and trigger potential mental health issues.
- And there is nothing better than laughter and levity. Having fun has shown to reduce cortisol levels. What better reason to joke around as much as possible.
- Play music that you love and that fits whatever mood you are in. Even Rock & Roll!
One further point I would like to stress (no pun intended). The dreariness of the winter months, the shoveling of snow, the fear of driving in bad weather, all contribute to the increase in the “stress hormone”. Watching a movie on television, lighting a candle, listening to soothing music will get us through. Take breaks after a few minutes of shoveling. Don’t push it!
Have a very Happy, Healthy, and Safe 2017, Hurleyville!!!