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Cardiac Rehab - Stress

Stress is a state of excessive demands. When your body and mind react to these demands, you heart rate and blood pressure go up. Over time this can harm your heart. You can control the demands or stress in your life by recognizing stress and changing the ways you respond to the things that stress you.

Recognizing When You Are Under Stress

It is important to know what stresses you and recognize your reaction. Below are signs of stress. Check off the responses YOU have to stress:

  • Irritability             
  • Anger        
  • Heartburn 
  • Overeating
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression  
  • Forgetfulness
  • Decreased resistance to colds
  • Fatigue
  • Impatience
  • Upset stomach
  • Undereating
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Skin Problems
  • Smoking more 

Recognizing signs of stress can be the first step in finding out what you need to do to avoid, prevent or manage to lower the stress in your life.

Reducing Stress

Avoiding what stresses you is ideal, but when that is not possible, you can choose how you respond to stress. Here are some tips for avoiding, handling and responding to stress.

  • Avoid confrontation when you can.
  • Manage your time better. Let others help. Learn to say "no".
  • Accept what you cannot change and let it go.
  • Talk yourself through it. Ask yourself, "is it worth being upset over?", "how much will this matter in a year?", "what can I gain from this?". These are all      good questions to make you realize you have a choice in how you react.
  • Learn relaxation techniques. They have been proven to lower both heart rate and blood pressure and they take only a few minute each day. Deep breathing is the most common form of relaxation and it's as easy as 1-2-3:

           1. Breathe in slowly through your nose for two counts. Feel your chest expand.

           2. Breathe out slowly for four counts. Empty the air from your lungs.

           3. Relax and repeat this breathing exercise three to four times.

  • Plan time to relax and take mini-breaks.
  • Exercise daily. Finding a buddy helps alleviate stress even more.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Find a hobby and spend time with friends and family.
  • Get a good night's sleep and be consistent.
  • Spend time alone. 
  • Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings or write to a friend.
  • Laugh and have fun.

A Final Note

It's important to know that "the blues" don't have to last forever. If you need help getting over them, call your doctor. There is help available.

If you would like to visit with someone while you are in the hospital, please let your nurse know. We would be happy to visit with you or just listen.

 Related Information
 Coping with Heart Disease
 Stress
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