How does chronic stress affect a woman’s health?

Stress is your body’s response to the daily events in your life. “Good” stress serves to motivate you to achieve a goal. “Bad” stress is a negative, destructive and self-inflicted energy that eats away at your health and can lead to many debilitating issues, especially heart disease. The “fight or flight response” is a well-known adaptation to an acute (usually physical) stress, and all mammals, including humans, tap into it as a strategy to survive.

With stress, our heart kick starts our body into action. Our heart rate and blood pressure rise. Our blood vessels dilate and constrict to selective organs to give more oxygen to our brain and muscles and less to our digestive and reproductive systems. An acute stress reaction can be life-saving. Ironically, when this stress reaction exists chronically, it can be a killer. Multiple medical studies most commonly link chronic stress to heart attack and stroke, but also to other chronic illnesses like diabetes, obesity, infertility and numerous GI disorders.

Figuring out ways to manage chronic stress is crucial to your health, and especially your heart. Women can manage stress by practicing healthy self-care strategies for coping with stress. Examine your negative stress signs in each of these six life areas: physical, emotional, mental, occupational, social, and spiritual. What would you like to be different in your life? What do you need to do to achieve more balance or potential? Here are some suggestions.

-Physical. Exercise, practice relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation, listen to relaxing music), eat healthy (for example, follow the Mediterranean diet), schedule leisure time, get enough sleep (7 to 9 hours/night).

-Emotional. Express your emotions, repeat positive emotions, work toward a healthy self-esteem.

-Mental. Have a positive outlook, realistic thinking, resilient attitude, be creative.

-Occupational. Establish doable goals, identify home-work balance, set limits.

-Social. Strive to maintain loving relationships, establish healthy boundaries, stay connected with friends.

-Spiritual. Find your meaning/purpose, focus on gratitude, stay in the present moment.

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