Stress is a normal part of our life today. Differences, disagreements, and anger – we experience all of these at some point in our life. But if severe and left unmanaged, stress can lead to a range of psychological and physical problems.
Smoking, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and a sedentary lifestyle can eventually lead to heart disease or stroke. So, managing stress is the best way to take care of your overall health.
What is stress?
It is not easy to define stress because people respond in different ways to events and situations. Simply put, being happy has a good physiological effect, as compared to being unhappy, which affects our body adversely. A study by the Harvard Medical School states that you are 2-3 times more susceptible to a heart attack just two hours after you’ve had a bout of anger.
Apart from anger and stress, psychologists are now also accentuating the role of depression and if a general feeling of hopelessness may have a role in heart disease. Negative emotions release a biologically toxic chemical called cortisol. Cortisol causes spasms in the arteries, resulting in angina pain or possibly even something fatal.
Even if your cholesterol levels are normal and not constricting the arteries, each time you experience a negative emotion your body produces more cortisol. This reduces the (HDL) good cholesterol levels. Negative emotions encourage blood clots. They also thicken the arterial walls and increase the risk of high BP, contributing to heart disease.
Read more: How stress affects blood pressure
Today, meditation is one of the most popular methods to manage stress. Several pieces of research state that meditation reduces blood pressure levels and heart rate. Meditation also increases the levels of calming neurotransmitters, causing changes in brain waves.
All of this reduces your risk of heart disease. Practice deep breathing exercises every day for 5-10 minutes and whenever you find yourself in a stressful situation.
Life is not perfect, so try to ignore the small irritants and learn to smile more. Smiling not only makes you look good, but it also releases serotonin – a chemical that calms your mind. Now, isn’t that a perfect antidote for stress?
Below is a generic heart-healthy meal plan which can be followed to manage heart health.
|1 cup tea (less milk, no sugar)||2 or more oat bran chapattis (3 tsp oat bran + 1 tsp wheat atta per chapatti)||1 cup tea (less milk, no sugar)||2 bowls of any whole dal|
|2-3 cloves of chopped raw garlic||2 cups of any green vegetable||Millet biscuits/ bran biscuits/ soyabean biscuits/ 2-3 fruits||2 cups cooked green vegetable|
|1 bowl skimmed milk or curd + 2 tbsp roasted oat bran + 1-2 fruits + 5 almonds. (Mix together and enjoy a healthy breakfast)||2 cups raw salad (mainly carrots, cabbage, onion, cucumbers and sprouts, dressed with 1 tsp olive oil)||2 cups raw salad|
|150 gms fish cooked in olive oil (thrice a week) or 1 cup dal.|
Note: Before undertaking this diet, consult your doctor if you have any serious ailment, or if you are taking any medication.
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