You can reduce your heart disease risk by controlling stress. According to researchers, "hardiness," or the ability to cope well with stress, depends on three things: challenge, control, and commitment. Try to interpret stressful situations as challenges, not threats, and then determine what you can control. Sometimes the only thing that you can control in a stressful situation is the way you respond, but that’s a start.
Make a commitment to be good to yourself by eating healthy, thinking positively, and sharing love. And follow these strategies:
- Communicate. Keeping your troubles inside will only add to your stress, such as the stress of living with a chronic illness. Share your innermost thoughts with your spouse, a friend, or a counselor.
- Exercise. Regular exercise relieves stress. It also can help to protect the cardiovascular and immune systems from the consequences of stressful events. Whether you swim, walk, cycle, or choose another form of exercise, the key is to do it on a regular basis.
- Relax. Find at least 15 minutes each day to relax. It’s important to clear the mind. If you, for example, meditate, perform yoga, pray, or read an inspirational book, you’ll sleep better, and getting enough shut-eye boosts the immune system to help you handle stress better.