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Health & Wellness: Stress less for strong hearts

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February is American Heart Month and there are several strategies to improve heart health including diet, exercise and stress reduction. Stress from challenging events or situations can play a large role in cardiovascular symptoms and events, particularly heart attack risk.

Most people realize that they need to reduce the stress in their lives but few have any strategies to do so. The American Heart Association has several strategies to implement to reduce the stress in your life and believe it is all about implementing healthy habits.

  1. Speaking with family and friends
    Reaching out to friends or family to share the highs and lows of life can be very healthy, including asking them about their own feelings.
  1. Daily physical activity
    Regular physical activity can reduce both emotional and physical tension. Finding something you enjoy is extremely important. Try to bike, walk or dance every day!
  1. Remember to laugh
    Laughter just makes us feel good! Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a funny joke, movie, or book, even when you are by yourself.
  1. Give up those bad habits
    Practice moderation in all things. Too much alcohol, smoking or caffeine can raise your blood pressure. If you smoke, decide to quit now! If you drink, do so in moderation
  1. Slow down
    Plan ahead so that you are able to complete the most important things in your day. Life is not a “race”
  1. Get enough sleep
    Most adults do not get the recommended six to eight hours of sleep nightly. If you have trouble sleeping, take the steps needed to help reduce stress or treat your depression. Sometimes, doing physical activity during the day can lead to better sleep quality
  1. Get Organized
    “To-Do” lists can be very useful to ensure you have what you need to accomplish that day. Try to focus on large tasks one at a time or one area of your life at a time.
  1. Practice giving back
    Volunteer your time to others. Helping others will help you
  1. Try not to worry
    While easier said than done, realize that a dirty kitchen or unmade bed are not the end of the world. One of my favorite quotes is “You can have it all, just not all at once”. I think this speaks to focusing on a couple areas of your life to prioritize and not letting yourself be spread too thin.

By utilizing these stress reduction techniques, you can increase your heart health! These in combination with a healthy diet will lead to a happy and healthy future! Interested in increasing your physical activity? Come to The Prescription Place in Niceville and mention this article for a free pedometer (limited time offer, while supply lasts).

Kristen Whiddon is a Pharmacist at The Prescription Place in Niceville.

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