It’s that time of year again. You know that time when the commercials start to slowly transition from fun in the sun to back to school? Summer vacations come to an end and the next stage in a parent/child’s life begins. My husband & I have reached the stage of being called, “Empty-nesters.”

             Reflecting, I do remember all the stress of trying to figure out which son needed which supplies for their allotted teachers as well as all the money and time that went into this process. As well as thoughts of the upcoming stress of the homework.
The stress can become a little overwhelming, but did you know that stress can be harmful to our hearts?

             According to Dr. Deepak Bhatt, direct of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, it has been suggested that stress triggers inflammation, a known instigator of heart disease, but that hasn’t been proven. Yet stress may influence heart disease in more subtle ways. “Stress does cause some people to act in ways that increase their risk for heart disease,” Dr. Bhatt says.

When you’re under stress, do you:

• eat to calm down?
• speak and eat very fast?
• drink alcohol or smoke?
• rush around but do not get much done?
• work too much?
• procrastinate?
• sleep too little, too much, or both?
• slow down?
• try to do too many things at once?

According to Harvard Medical School, here are 5 ways to manage stress and help your heart.

Want to turn your stress around and help your heart in the process? Try these five simple tips.

1. Stay positive.

People with heart disease who maintain an upbeat attitude are less likely to die than those who are more negative, according to research. Just having a good laugh can help your heart. Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

2. Meditate.

This practice of inward-focused thought and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Anyone can learn to meditate. Just take a few minutes to sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Meditation’s close relatives, yoga and prayer, can also relax the mind and body.

3. Exercise.

Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only melts away stress, but it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintain a healthy weight.

4. Unplug.

It’s impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Cut the cord. Avoid emails and TV news. Take time each day – even if it’s for just 10 or 15 minutes – to escape from the world.

5. Find your own path to stress relief.

Take a bubble bath, listen to music, or read a book. Any technique is effective if it works for you.

Thankfully, Lily, my service dog, is my only baby to worry about these days, but then again, as moms do we ever stop worrying about our babies: 2 legged or 4 legged?

You’ve got this! Have a great school year and feel free to comment and share your favorite remedy for de-stressing.

Keep a Healthy Heart,

? Elizabeth ?