Beat Stress the Heart Smart Way
I’m so stressed, I can’t deal with this anymore! I’m just not coping!
Sound familiar? For those of you that can identify with these statements, have you ever stopped to think about what stress is doing to your heart and overall well being? Unidentified and untreated causes of pressure, tension or strain can leave you feeling ‘burnt out’ impacting negatively on your emotional, physical, social and professional life. We all need a certain amount of positive stress in our lives in order to function - but the problem arises when negative stress creeps in trying to take control! According to the American Heart Association, “stress is defined as the process that results from a person’s response to physical, chemical, emotional or environmental factors”. Unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, disordered eating patterns and/or lack of physical activity can be the result of the body’s inability to deal with ‘stressful situations’. These negative behaviours are risk factors for the development of chronic diseases of lifestyle i.e. heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia (high blood fats). So how do you know when you are stressed out and more importantly what can you do to ensure a lifestyle free of negative stress?
Recognising Negative Stress
If you exhibit 5 or more of the above conditions, you may already be suffering from stress. There’s no need to panic further as there are many things you can do to help yourself feel and cope better.
Practical Stress Management Tips
Recognise the signs and symptoms
Follow a healthy lifestyle
Control your alcohol intake
It is best to stick to the recommended daily intake limit of no more than 1 unit for women and 2 for men. 1 unit is equivalent to 120ml wine, 25ml spirits, 60ml sherry, 25ml liqueur or 340ml beer.
Take time out
Lean on a comfortable shoulder
The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa recommends following a healthy balanced lifestyle that includes heart healthy eating practices, regular physical activity, managing stress and other risk factors in order to prevent/delay the onset of non-communicable diseases (CVD, hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia).
Written by Ayesha Seedat, Registered Dietitian, The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa.
For more FREE heart smart nutritional advice from registered dietitians, call the Heart Mark Diet Line on 0860 223 222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org