5 Ways to Reduce Stress

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shutterstock_34189474Stress is a critical risk factor for heart disease. Elevated stress levels can put a strain on the entire cardiovascular system, so it’s important that you understand how to minimize your stress.

1. Exercise

Exercise offers many health benefits, and a lower stress level is one of them. Find something you love to do and start moving. Sign up for a dance class, go for a walk or take up yoga.

2. Spend Time with Family and Friends

Spending time with people you enjoy is a great way to manage your stress. Feeling connected to others can help reduce the “fight or flight” response that can accompany stress and make you feel more secure and relaxed.

3. Have Fun

Doing what you love can help keep your stress levels low. Make a list of things you enjoy and then look for ways to do them. Perhaps you love to paint, garden or visit museums. Build your favorite activities into your schedule to alleviate stress and improve your quality of life.

4. Create a Healthy Lifestyle

In addition to exercise, it’s important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. While sugar and caffeine may offer immediate relief for a stressful feeling, they actually create a chemical imbalance that causes you to crash afterwards and feel worse. By starting your day with a healthy breakfast and eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, you can better manage stress.

5. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is an integral part of your overall health, because it offers your body a chance to rest and recover. Sleep deprivation has been shown to elevate stress levels. If you’re not getting enough sleep, try to go to bed earlier and limit your time in front of phone and computer screens before going to bed.