Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Meditation and Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress

How you react to stress determines how it will affect you. Too much stress can be bad for your heart. Learn how to manage your stress with deep breathing and meditation exercises.

Stress can be hard to avoid, but don’t worry if you can’t avoid stress completely—you don’t have to.stress is a normal physical and psychological to both positive and negative situations. Stress itself isn’t necessarily unhealthy—but your reaction to it can be.

How Does Stress Affect Your Heart?

When stress becomes constant and chronic, it can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage the artery walls, the American Heart Association (AHA) reports. Stress that’s left unchecked may contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
In particular, research has shown that those with “Type A” traits—such as often feeling rushed, irritated, impatient, or angry—have an increased likelihood of developing heart disease. Emotions like anger and hostility cause your body to release stress hormones into your blood. This causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure, which makes your heart work harder.

Managing Your Stress Levels

Although the exact link between heart disease and stress is unclear, it’s smart to take steps now to get your stress levels under control. It may be tempting to ask your doctor for medicine to manage stress, but lifestyle changes such as stress management techniques are a much better long-term strategy to lower your stress level.

One of the best ways to help you relax and manage stress is through deep breathing exercises, including meditation. It takes a little practice to make a habit of breathing exercises, but anyone can learn them. You can use them at home or in the office—or anywhere that you need some relief. Try these exercises, recommended by the AHA and Mayo Clinic, to help reduce stress: