Chronic mental illness and emotional stress can raise blood pressure and damage arteries. One of the best things you can do to protect your heart is to stay relaxed -- at home and at work. Stress-management expert Dr. David Posen offers these tips for a more serene life.
1. Get a good night's sleep.
An estimated one in four people suffers from stress-induced sleep deprivation. Try to avoid coffee, nicotine, napping and excess chocolate. A word to the wise: take a hot bath before bed.
2. Limit caffeine
Eliminate or reduce your intake of coffee, tea, chocolate and cola. You'll sleep better, and feel less jittery and more energetic.
3. Practice visualization.
Close your eyes and picture yourself in a tranquil setting.
4. Get physical
Exercise! A brisk walk or a game of tennis will help get your mind off your worries, and you'll feel relaxed.
5. Get a pet
Research shows that spending time with a furry friend can help control blood pressure and increase your odds of surviving a heart attack.
6. Make time for yourself
Do something enjoyable that will calm your nerves and ease your tensions, such as reading a book.
7. Get away from it all
Studies show that vacations from work are good for your spirits and your heart health.
9. Consider yoga (or another Eastern practice, such as tai chi)
Yoga balances the mind and body through meditation, breathing and physical postures. Try this relaxing breathing exercise:
1. Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth (keep it slightly open).
2. Breathe into your abdomen. Feel your tummy rise and fall.
3. Breathe slowly.
4. Focus on and observe your breathing.
From the Feb. 2006 issue of Canadian Living