valentines day workplace wellness

On Valentines Day, Think About the Heart… and Stress

Today is Valentines Day — which, if this is a reminder, may help you reduce stress later today, and if it’s not, is still meant to help you do your heart a favor and manage stress.

We recently noted a Gallup report that highlights how widespread the stress problem might be: “Eight in 10 Americans Afflicted by Stress.”

The piece states: “About eight in 10 Americans say they frequently (44%) or sometimes (35%) encounter stress in their daily lives. Just 17% say they rarely feel stressed, while 4% say they never do.”

Managing stress is a key part of any well-run workplace wellness program. And as part of  American Heart Month, the American Heart Association has outlined “How Reducing Stress Can Save Your Life.”

Reduce Stress for Valentines Day

How does stress work?

The AHA reports: “Studies have shown that when you’re stressed your body releases adrenaline into your blood stream, causing your heart rate and blood pressure to go up temporarily. If you’re constantly under stress, your body doesn’t get the chance to rest because you’re always in high gear, and as a result, your artery walls become damaged.”

“While the link isn’t entirely clear from a scientific standpoint, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two and two together: If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, your world just got rocked. And even if you haven’t been diagnosed, stress can trigger all of your risk factors.”

The post outlines ways — many of which can be integrated into one’s workday — to get started on stress reduction:

1. “Take a deep breath. Carve out time for meditation, deep breathing, yoga or tai chi, crank up some tunes or go for a short walk. Whatever activity you find calming, find the time to do it every day for at least 15 minutes.”

2. “Give up your vices. Overdoing it with alcohol or caffeine can put stress into overdrive, so try to cut back as much as possible. If you smoke, you already know it’s a bad habit. Drop it. We know quitting isn’t easy, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

3.” Burn some steam. Give your endorphins a boost with regular physical activity. Exercise relieves mental and physical tension, and anyone who has experienced runner’s high knows what we mean. Not to mention, physically active adults have a lower risk of depression and function better mentally. Try walking, swimming, biking or another form of cardio every day.”

4. “Consider stress management. If you’re always in a rush, impatient, hostile or constantly stressed, stress management classes might be worth looking into. They’re usually held at community colleges, rehab programs or hospitals, and your healthcare professional can likely recommend one for you.”