Supporting woman’s mental healthNov 23, 2022
Celebrating Mental Health DayNov 23, 2022
Did you know that there is a link between mental health and heart disease
Let's take a look at how the two relate in this article:
For long periods of time, people who are experiencing depression, anxiety, and stress or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may experience physiological effects on their bodies.
These effects can include increased heart rates, high blood pressure, reduced blood flow to the heart, and increased cortisol levels (a stress-response hormone) which can pose a risk of a heart problem such as a heart attack.
Stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to unhealthy habits, such as smoking, a lack of physical activity, failing to take prescribed medications, or overeating, which are all known to contribute to heart diseases.
Not only do people with depression, stress, or anxiety have fewer healthy ways of coping with stressful situations, but they also may have a harder time making healthier lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of heart problems.
Heart rate and blood pressure can increase as a result of chronic stress. When dealing with stress for a prolonged period of time, your stress hormone levels rise, and you may develop high blood pressure (hypertension).
Hypertension can have damaging effects on your heart, brain, and other organs; eventually, hypertension may lead to serious health problems such as heart failure, stroke, heart attack, and abnormal heart rhythms.
What is stress, and when does it become chronic?
In general, stress refers to a feeling of emotional or physical tension faced by challenges and situations, which may result from frustration, anger, anxiety, or even nervousness. When faced with a challenge or demand, your body reacts to stress, which can be positive.
For example: if it helps you to avoid danger or when you are injured, and even when faced with completing certain tasks in a workplace, it can help boost focus. However, if it lasts too long, it may cause mental and physical harm. Stress is a normal part of life, and it comes in two main types: acute and chronic:
- Acute stress: Stress of this type is short-term and normal and also passes quickly. Acute stress happens to everyone from time to time; you feel it in challenges like slamming your brakes, having a disagreement with someone, or going for an interview. This may also occur in times of doubt, changes, or when pushed to do more. Additionally, when you're doing something new or exciting or in a dangerous situation, you may benefit from it.
- Chronic stress: This type of stress lasts for a longer period of time. Many people who go through challenges like the loss of a job, financial troubles, or living in an unhealthy environment often worry about how they will manage.
Any sort of stress that lasts for weeks or months is known as chronic stress, and when managed wrongly, it may lead to mental and physical health problems. People with chronic stress may also find it difficult to engage with other people whilst they cope with the challenges in their lives.
When you experience chronic stress, your body is constantly on alert, even when there is no sign or reason for danger. Over time, this can lead to putting your health at risk by increasing blood pressure, risk of heart problems, depression, and anxiety, and if you already have a heart condition, chronic stress can make it worse.
A person suffering from chronic stress can experience a variety of physical and emotional symptoms as a result, which can, in turn, interfere with their ability to perform their daily life activities. Let's take a look at the signs and symptoms of what chronic stress may include:
- Having difficulty concentrating and being forgetful
- An increase in fatigue, overly or underlie adequate sleep.
- Increased headaches or pains in the body
- Stiffness or tension in the muscles, specifically in the jaw or neck area
- Constipation, diarrhoea, or nausea
- Usage of unhealthy habits like smoking to relax.
- Higher heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Chest pains
- Difficulty breathing
Here are some tips to help you cope with chronic stress:
Chronic stress management can vary from person to person, and what is successful for one person may not be successful for another. You may find the following tips helpful in coping with chronic stress:
Tip 1: Stay physically active
Staying physically active can boost your moods and reduce levels of stress. Activities such as taking a walk are a great way to begin, and more stimulating exercise like jogging, dancing, swimming, or hiking can also boost your mental and physical health.
Note that if you do have existing heart problems, check with your doctor to ensure that these activities are suitable for you.
Tip 2: Try out meditation exercises
It may be uncomfortable at first, but exercises such as yoga, meditation, or breathing techniques can be a rewarding experience. These exercises can help reduce stress and increase positive emotions.
Learning to breathe properly and relaxing techniques can help your body and mind regain their natural balance of dealing with stress in a healthy way. Yoga and meditation are natural ways to relieve your body and mind.
Tip 3: Make sleep a priority
Making sure you get enough sleep is important for your physical and mental well-being because it is beneficial for managing stress. Following a regular sleep routine is a powerful stress reducer that also helps calm and restores the body, improves concentration, boosts your moods, and sharpens your judgment in decision-making.
Being well-rested helps you cope better with stress and improves problem-solving.
Tip 4: Focus on what can be changed
There are situations in life that you can control and others that you can't. As long as you focus on what you can change or control, you will feel more grounded and more at ease in everyday life.
Whenever something happens that is beyond your control, try not to get too stressed out about it, and don't let it overwhelm you. Instead, do something that you can change, such as planning an event, and then try to move on from there.
Focusing on what you can change may lower your stress levels and give you a sense of control that improves your mental health.
Tip 5: Be kind to yourself
Being kind to yourself is good for your mental health and reduces stress and anxiety. If you find that you're not as good at managing your feelings of stress as others are, you may lose your patience with yourself, and that's okay.
Having said that, it is important to remember that forgiving yourself, and showing yourself grace, will help to improve your mental health and reduce your stress levels.
Tip 6: Avoid self-isolating yourself
If you are dealing with a situation that is having a negative effect on your mental health, instead of staying alone when dealing with those situations, surround yourself with positive people who are supportive of your well-being, such as family and close friends.
Having a strong social support system can be great for healing by reducing physical and emotional distress and boosting moods and outlook.
Tip 7: Seek help when needed
Even if you have a solid plan for managing stress, there are times that you may need more support. A mental health professional is a great resource for seeking additional support, especially if you experience symptoms of mental health withdrawals.
Keep in mind that having chronic stress doesn't mean you have to go through it alone, as it can cause severe harm to your mental and physical well-being. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will feel like yourself again, and experts can also offer advice on coping strategies and help you recover.
You can avoid depression and anxiety with appropriate chronic stress management. To avoid these health challenges, you should recognise stressful situations early on and act as soon as possible to reduce your stress before it escalates into a full-blown crisis.
A balanced diet and regular physical exercise will help you better cope with chronic stress, improve your mental and physical well-being, and keep depression and anxiety at bay.
We strive to support our patients with the tools that attain long-term management methods that they need to cope with future stress-related situations, and we focus on our patients as a complete person rather than a collection of their symptoms.
We also place emphasis on teaching our patients relaxation techniques which can also be useful after treatment. There is no reason to burn out and feel overwhelmed by stress. If you are ready to take back control of your life, you can contact us today or visit our website.