How to keep your heart healthy: lower your stress levels
Did you know that heart disease and stress can be related? It’s not just one of those things people say; they often are! Sure, stress can be a normal part of life — and sometimes even good in certain situations. But left unmanaged, stress can increase the risk of problems like high blood pressure, chest pain, and heart disease — just to name a few.
It’s important to remember that everyone responds to stress differently, so its effect on the body varies. When I ask people for their greatest source of stress, the answer often has to do with work. This comes as no surprise; after all, many of us spend 40 to 60 hours a week in the workplace — which is more than ever.
Is your job stressing you out? We have some tips for reducing stress in the workplace!
1. Recognize when you are feeling increased stress levels.
Recognizing your body’s response to stress can help you to prevent it from interfering with your performance, satisfaction, and emotional health. Remember that there are both physical and emotional symptoms you may experience. Some include fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, sleeping problems, feelings of depression, and anxiety. We recommend keeping a tracker of symptoms and then have an action plan if they start occurring. Think activities like deep breathing, taking a walk, or meditation.
2. Organize and prioritize.
This seems simple, but many of us have trouble in this area. To get started, try these ideas:
- Don’t overcommit.
- Drop unnecessary tasks to the bottom of your to-do list.
- Avoid overbooking your day and scheduling back-to-back meetings.
- Delegate tasks to your team or manager when you can.
- Be willing to compromise and contribute differently to a task or project.
3. Plan ahead.
Planning is the key to success — especially when it comes to things like showing up on time and being prepared for the day ahead. We recommend:
- Starting projects far ahead of deadlines so you’re not trying to crunch at the last second.
- Keep a log of how long certain projects take you to complete. That way, next time they come around you have a lead on how long you will need.
- Feel comfortable saying no. If you overcommit yourself, you will under deliver so set yourself up for success by knowing your limits.
4. Take back your break time!
To get things done, many of us work right through our scheduled breaks and lunch. This is a bad habit that can leave you stressed and unproductive. Try taking smaller breaks if it’s too hard to get away for a full 30 minutes. Walk around your building, take the stairs to another floor, or stretch. You will feel better and come back to your tasks with improved focus.
Once you understand your patterns and responses to stress, you can plan better to manage and prevent it. No one solution will work, but don’t be afraid to try new things. By implementing small changes over time, you can see great success and reduce your risk of stress-related health problems!