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Protect Your Heart - Mellow Out and Rest Well

By Sandy Schroeder

We can all recite the heart healthy rules. We know we should be out there moving, eating healthy foods, and keeping our blood sugar and blood pressure in check. Not to mention, no smoking.

But handling stress, and getting enough rest, are major influences that are often overlooked.

How Stress Affects the Heart

Anger, anxiety, depression, sadness, or loneliness are now believed to be psychological factors that can impact the heart. If you always feel a little tense, and worried, or frequently feel like lashing out, your feelings may be putting you at risk for a heart attack.

A dear relative of mine said the morning she had a heart attack she was fuming over something that had happened to her. Suddenly she felt as if hot oil was pouring over her head. The next thing she knew she was in the ER with a heart attack.

Ways to Handle Stress

Taking steps to reduce stress, or learn good ways to handle it, could be well worth the effort.

Start with the stress that you can eliminate. If you are always worried and upset, pinpoint the triggers and make an effort to channel or eliminate them.

You can also learn new ways to handle ongoing stress. If work pressure, or family responsibilities, seem to hover over you, start taking stress breaks at work and at home. Fifteen minutes doing an imaging meditation, or deep breathing exercise, can help put everything into perspective.

Running, yoga, hobbies such as painting, knitting or weaving, and outdoor relief with camping, gardening, biking or hiking, can all help to lighten the stress load.

If your stress persists, see your doctor for a referral to a counselor to work through the issues.

Why Your Rest Is Crucial

Researchers say we need seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.

Recent studies, cited by Harvard Health, found individuals sleeping slightly less (six to seven hours a night) were at a significantly greater risk for heart disease, artery calcification, and heart attacks. Sleep apnea has also been linked to stroke, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and heart disease.

Taking sleep seriously can start by keeping regular bedtime hours, skipping caffeine in late afternoon or evening, and eliminating alcohol, tobacco and electronics right before bedtime.

Make your bedroom a sleep haven that skips electronics and late night TV. Pick the best pillows and mattresses that suit you, and block out night lights. Then cultivate a sleep routine with soft music, warm baths, good books or a milk-based snack.

As always, see ER, or your doctor, if you have heart symptoms, and be sure to maintain regular checkups.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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