Researchers at UCLA announced a strong link between anxiety and heart attacks. In other recent studies, job stress has been linked with second heart attacks and negative relationships have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.
Managing your stress is more important than ever. Here are some tips to limit the damage anxiety can cause your heart:
Notice. Are you handling difficult situations well, or have you become accustomed to a high level of stress? Sometimes it is hard to self-diagnose your anxiety. A simple Stress Level Indicator can be helpful. Face the truth about your anxiety level and begin to make changes.
Decline. The word “no” is powerful, yet many of us have a hard time using it. By focusing on what is truly valuable (such as family, leisure time, and earning a living) and having the courage to decline opportunities and projects which pull time and energy in a different direction, we can protect the important things and reduce anxiety about being able to complete tasks. Say “yes” to the things you value by saying “no” to the others.
Disengage. You cannot function well if your body and brain never have a chance to refresh and recharge. When working at your desk, get up at least once an hour. When working on the computer or reading, close your eyes every half hour for a few seconds and breathe deeply. Fight against the urge to work through lunch and give your body a chance to regroup. Turn off the Blackberry during family time and spend at least one hour per day out of contact with work, exclusive of time spent sleeping, showering, and eating. Increase your productivity by disengaging from your tasks.
Relax. Leisure time is not a luxury, it is a necessity! Many of us deny ourselves personal pleasures to “get the job done.” In a pinch this strategy may work, but as a lifestyle, denying yourself time to relax allows stress and anxiety to build. Enjoy a cup of tea, a glass of wine, a good book, or even a favorite television program. Clear your mind of the worries of the day and breathe deeply. Give your body and brain a chance to get ready for the next challenge