Six Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices Caused by Stress
While a direct link between stress and heart disease has not been determined, people who are stressed on a daily basis often act in ways that increase their risk for developing heart disease.
“There are a number of ways for individuals to better manage their stress without having to engage in unhealthy choices such as smoking or drinking,” said Stacey Reinoehl, BSN, RN, cardiac nurse navigator with Bronson. “My go-to’s are yoga, breathing exercises and meditation – all proven to help reduce the physical effects of stress on the body over time.”
Here are six common, unhealthy lifestyle choices people often make when stressed that could impact their heart health:
- Exercise less.
Exercise not only melts stress away but it also helps protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure, strengthening the heart muscle and helps you maintain a healthy weight. It also releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins.
- Eat junk food.
When you are stressed, a burger or pizza may sound good at the time but it is important to know what these types of foods are doing to your body over time. These foods are high in sodium and fat, which the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends avoiding. Consider swapping out fast food for whole grains, lean meats, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
- Sleep less.
Sleeping too little can overwork your heart and can cause you to be more stressed. You can prevent heart disease by sleeping between seven and nine hours every night. You can help accomplish this by skipping that afternoon cup of Joe.
- Stay plugged in.
After a long day you may think that sitting on the couch in front of your television or with your phone in hand sounds great but it could be doing more harm than good! It is impossible to escape stress when it is constantly with you. Take some time away from your phone, computer and television to decompress. Use this time to read, listen to music or take a bath.
When you smoke, you deprive your heart and blood of oxygen, which is vital for your body to function. Smoking also ignites the growth of plaque in your arteries. As plaque builds, it can block your arteries which may cause a blood clot. If the clot is big enough, it can block blood flow through your artery. This results in a heart attack or stroke.
- Drink alcohol.
Drinking excessively or consistently over time hurts your heart. The AHA recommends not exceeding two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. The more alcohol you consume, the higher your risk is for increased blood pressure and stroke.
Are you at risk for heart disease?
If you have a lot of stress in your life, you may be at a higher risk than you think. Find out your level of risk for heart disease by clicking here to complete our free risk assessment.
The Bronson Heart & Vascular team is committed to heart and vascular disease prevention, and sharing easy steps you can take to live a healthier life. Looking for a Bronson doctor to help you? For a complete list of providers at Bronson, visit bronsonhealth.com/find-a-doctor or call Bronson HealthAnswers at (269) 341-7723.