Heart and Vascular Care
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Short mental breaks offer big benefits
Experiencing stress is normal, and some stress is even good for you. But too much stress affects more than your mood.
“If left unchecked, stress can contribute to larger health concerns, like high blood pressure, heart disease, a weakened immune system, obesity, and diabetes,” says cardiologist Sateesh Kesari, MD.
Since it isn’t possible to completely check out and take an actual vacation every time stress sneaks into our lives, try these five stress-reducing techniques the next time you’re on a deadline at work, busy taking care of children, or stuck in traffic. Skipping beats?
Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and imagine a relaxing scene like sitting on a beach, feeling the sun on your skin, and listening to the waves. Or imagine walking through a meadow or woods while birds sing. Focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells will help immerse your body in relaxation.
Take deep, controlled breaths. Practice breathing from your diaphragm—you should feel your abdomen expanding rather than
your shoulders lifting. Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which can help you relax almost instantly. It also helps slow down your heart rate.
Turn your gaze outward
Instead of focusing on everything you have to do and the things that are causing you stress, cast your gaze outward. Look out a window, people-watch, and notice any birds or clouds within view. Allow yourself to daydream for a few minutes.
Before responding in a stressful situation when you may be angry or flustered, pause and count to 10. Allow yourself the time to process the information and form an appropriate response. Also ask yourself, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how big of an issue is this?” By taking a step back and giving a situation some perspective, you can help control your response and stress level.
Turn on the tunes
Music is proven to have a soothing effect on emotions. If you are unsure what kind of music helps calm you down, try some instrumental and classical music. Play the radio in the car, turn on a playlist when you’re in the shower or getting ready, or pop in some earbuds while you’re prepping for a presentation.
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