February is American Heart Month.
A lot of focus is being put on heart health and with good reason: heart disease is the leading cause of death in America.
A number of factors can contribute to heart disease, and stress is a common link between them. Smoking, excessive eating or drinking, job issues, sleeping problems, and irritability and anger are often all rooted in stress and bad for your heart.
Changing how you respond to stress can make a difference in your life. Try these lifestyle changes and see if your stress level changes, too:
Be ready for the unsteady. The unexpected happens, whether it’s a flat tire on the way to the airport or a ketchup drip on your shirt at lunch before the afternoon meeting with the VP. Anger won’t help matters, so remain calm. Change your response and you can change your stress level. And if someone points out that ketchup stain? Say, “Yes I know, but that sandwich was so worth it.”
Let go of perfectionism. It doesn’t exist and you’ll never achieve it. Perfectionism can feed your sense of failure, even while others think you’re doing a great job. Do your best, but don’t think your best isn’t good enough.
Work out to work it out. Take a walk outside on your lunch break or make several trips up and down the stairs. Break up sitting at your desk or standing at your workstation with a good head-to-toe stretch a few times a day.
Scrape your plate. If your “plate” is already full with projects, avoid taking on new ones. If you’re overwhelmed and assigned a new project, ask what projects can be taken away or put on hold so you can focus your energy in a healthy way.
Swap this for that. Make at least one healthy “swap” every day. Drink water instead of a soda. Have fruit instead of a candy bar. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Instead of counting the minutes until your next smoke break count your blessings.
Get that funny feeling. Nothing is better for your overall health than a good belly laugh. Enjoy the humor in everyday life. Keep company with people who make you smile. Lighten up.
Like the song says, let it go. Long-held anger and resentment will eat away at your soul faster than crows devour road kill. Free yourself from the burden of the grudge and forgive someone today (including yourself).
What healthy ways do you handle everyday stresses in life? Share your ideas with us!
Here’s to a Healthy Year!