6 Stress-Busting Options that Your Heart will Love

Stephen McCulloh, MD - Baton Rouge General Physicians

People respond to stress in different ways, but those who are unable to cope with it often end up with physical problems --- high blood pressure, depression, even heart disease. Research shows that chronic stress exposes your body to unhealthy, elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, and the impact on the heart can be significant.

The most common stressors I see are illness, relationship problems, work overload, financial setbacks and major lifestyle changes like divorce or the death of a loved one. Many people may not even realize they are stressed until they begin to develop symptoms that interfere with their daily life.

Some common warning signs of stress include headaches, weight loss or weight gain, exhaustion, racing heart, difficulty sleeping, irritability, mood swings and increased use of alcohol or drugs. These are serious symptoms and should not be ignored. They are your body’s way of telling you to slow down and take better care of yourself.

Here are some stress management tips that will help you feel better, both physically and emotionally:

Focus on things you can control
No matter how hard we try, many things we stress about are out of our control. Accept the things you cannot change and change the things you can.

Know your stress triggers
Think ahead about situations and people who may upset you and stay away.

Adopt a healthier lifestyle
Eat right. Drink right. Exercise. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits, fiber and vegetables. Exercise is a natural stress buster, releasing endorphins, which help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude.

And of course, no smoking and go easy on the drinking.

Get plenty of sleep
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for our mood. But when we’re sleep deprived our problems often seem insurmountable. Make sure you’re getting 7 to 8 hours every night.

Learn to say no
You might be stressed because you are trying to meet too many demands --- from friends, family, your job, etc. Learn to say no and budget your time by setting priorities and asking others to help when it’s appropriate.

Find ways to relax
Yoga and meditation can strengthen your mind and body and lower your blood pressure. You can also enjoy a good book, a daily walk, or a phone call to an old friend.

And if you feel that your stress is taking a physical toll on you, don’t be afraid to discuss it with a professional, who can help you find the treatment that’s best for you.


Stephen McCulloh, MD
Baton Rouge General Physicians - Family Medicine (Livingston)

Phone: (225) 686-0158

May 2, 2018