Ever notice how your heart races, muscles tense and your breath quickens when you are late for work and stuck in traffic? With the building of stress and anxiety you might even feel like you are going to faint. The technical term for this is the fight or flight response. In this stress reaction, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol to prepare for action. This gives you the ability to run from danger. On the other hand, when you are stuck in traffic, the fight or flight response is simply counterproductive.
Whether from an overbearing boss, an unhappy marriage or daily traffic, chronic stress will affect your health. It can interfere with appetite, sleep and your mood. The question most people have is whether or not it affects your heart.
What is Stress?
Stress is the result of emotional or physical changes in the environment that you need to respond or adjust to. These can be major changes in your lifestyle, minor hassles or both. Knowing what your own particular life stressors are will help you manage stress better. People of every age go through some similar life stressors. These include work overload, personal relationship problems, and the death of a loved one or illness of a friend or family member. Other stressors include crowds, pregnancy, retirement, unemployment and beginning a new job.
Broken Heart Syndrome
Without a doubt stress affects the body, and this includes your heart. There is even something called the broken heart syndrome in which the heart stops when you hear bad news. This syndrome is the result of severe stress. The question is, what about regular, normal, everyday stress?
Your Daily Routine
People react to stress differently from everyone else. One person may find an event gratifying while another may find the same event frustrating and miserable. For instance, moving houses from one state to another may cause joy in one person and depression in someone else.
Your Heart and Stress
More research is necessary to reveal how stress causes heart disease directly. On the other hand, the behavior that people engage in to cope with stress such as overeating, binge drinking, chain-smoking and even take drugs will increase blood pressure and levels of cholesterol. The stress response of your body may include stomach pain, back strain and headache. You might feel forgetful, cranky and go through insomnia. When you go through constant stress, your body could wear out just like a car going full throttle for a weeklong journey could wear out.
Stress management is essential for your heart health. Even with no direct evidence of stress affecting your heart, the results of stress will affect your overall health, including your heart. Social coping and psychological therapy will help people learn to cope with the stresses of life. Exercise and eating and drinking in moderate amounts will help you cope with stress. Your body will be able to relax in between stressors as you learn how to manage how to cope.