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Money & Career

Reduce Your Work Stress And Protect Your Heart!

February is American Heart Month, and it is a great time to learn about your heart disease risk factors and how to manage them.

We spend most of our days at work, where we tend to develop unhealthy habits that can lead to heart disease. These include over-eating, lack of physical activity, and not managing stress well. Studies show a strong link between chronic job stress and cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and high blood pressureIn addition, women with highly stressful jobs have a 40% increased risk of heart disease.

You can manage your work stress by making even slight adjustments to your daily routine at work. We recommend weaving in these steps into your daily work routine:

  • Stand up and walk every hour, even if you just walk up and down the stairwell. This increases the flow of oxygen into the bloodstream which in turn lowers the concentration of stress hormones in the blood stream and reduces stress.
  • Take a few long, deep breaths whenever you feel stressed. When you are really stressed, take a short break and practice breathing exercises. Not only does breathing help lower stress hormone levels in your blood stream, but it also brings awareness away from worries to promote a state of greater relaxation.
  • Eat a healthy lunch. High-fat and high-sugar foods get absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, causing an initial surge of energy. But that initial surge is quickly followed by a feeling of lethargy once blood sugar levels drop, which can result in stress. Also be sure to manage your coffee intake as caffeine stimulates stress hormones.
  • Laugh! Yes, laughter reduces stress! It enhances the intake of oxygen-rich air which lowers stress hormone levels in the bloodstream, it stimulates blood circulation in the body which results in relaxation, and it improves the mood by easing feelings of anxiety and depression.

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is re-launching its WomenHeart @ Work program for American Heart Month. This program provides free presentations about heart health and stress reduction in the workplace by WomenHeart Champions – women heart disease survivors who are trained by WomenHeart as community educators, advocates and spokespersons – to employees at companies large and small across the country. Sign up for your free WomenHeart @ Work presentation here.

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