Managing stress does not mean ignoring it, she said. "Working with a qualified mental health professional who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy can be very helpful. In lieu of that, there are some things you can do on your own."
- Take several slow deep breaths periodically throughout the day. Deep breathing can shift the body out of the fight-or-flight response.
- Exercise regularly. Cardiovascular exercise teaches the body how to handle the physiological effects of stress. It also helps reduce anxiety and depression.
- Eat as healthfully as possible. Chronic or acute stress may trigger the desire to dive into high-calorie comfort foods. However, after an initial flash of relief, you will tend to feel lethargic, fatigued and possibly worse than you did before.
- Identify stressful triggers, and create a plan to help you cope.
- Instead of stressing about your health, be proactive and find ways to improve it. If you have high blood pressure, learn how to lower the sodium in your diet. Start walking a few days a week to strengthen your heart and help manage weight.
For more on stress and your heart, visit the American Heart Association.
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