February is American Heart Month! Last month when we turned that calendar and finally said “good riddance” to 2020, many of us made some resolutions to make healthy changes to lower our risk of developing heart disease.
Some of those changes may have included:
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking and staying away from secondhand smoke
- Controlling cholesterol and blood pressure
- Limiting alcohol consumption or being more mindful about moderation
- Get active and eating healthy
Controlling and preventing the above risk factors is important for mitigating heart disease, but did you know that limiting stress can also reduce the risk of heart disease?
According to the American Heart Association, more than 1 in 3 women has a form of cardiovascular disease. And heart disease is the leading cause of hospital stays for men in the United States. Due to the prevalence of the disease, the AHA recognizes each February as American Heart Month in hopes of raising awareness about the disease and how to prevent it.
Stress and Heart Health
While there are risk factors that contribute to heart disease that you can’t control, reducing stress is one thing that you can help control.
When stress is excessive, it can contribute to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure. If high blood pressure goes untreated, it can result in heart disease.
Reducing Your Stress
Family Services has put together a series of videos from our Counseling division to help you find some calm in this topsy-turvy world. You can find them at TinyURL.com/findingcalmvideos.
Family Services is here to ensure that anyone who needs our help—for safety, early childhood education, or just to talk through an issue—can afford to get it.
When watching these videos, keep in mind that it may be helpful to envision stress reduction and finding calm with two distinct layers or components. Think of it as giving more space to the “ceiling” of your blowup/breakdown point. The idea is to stay in a more balanced range on the stress meter before letting it creep too high.
One layer involves general self-care and things you can incorporate into daily life. You can work these in anywhere and at any time — whether you are stressed at that moment or not.
Secondly, there are what we refer to as “in-the-moment” techniques that can reduce movement up the stress meter when you are in a traffic jam, or you’ve received one of those emails that get you worked up, or you’ve just learned you or a loved one have potentially been exposed to COVID. In-the-moment techniques simply involve using the techniques when you need them most.
TOGETHER, these two can complement each other. Daily stress management habits give you a better starting place, and then, in-the-moment techniques help you stray less from that point, maintaining better balance.
When you don’t have either of these layers, you reach your upper-stress zone more quickly. If you have only one or the other, it also helps, but not as much.
When to Seek Help
If the stresses in your life become more than you can bear or manage with these simple techniques, consider seeking professional assistance. A knowledgeable professional will be able to work with you to devise time management skills and stress-reducing techniques.
Family Services has been here to help this community for more than 100 years — through two worldwide pandemics, and we’re still here to help with ongoing appointments available for telehealth.
Our Counseling division is available for anyone who needs help dealing with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and more. It’s important, now more than ever, to take care of our mental well-being and to encourage the same in our community.
We are here to ensure that anyone who needs our help—for safety, early childhood education, or just to talk through an issue—can afford to get it.