Managing Stress for a Healthy Heart

 Tips to Reduce Stress

Heart HealthThere are many factors that can impact how healthy your heart is, including diet and other lifestyle choices. In this blog post, we’re focusing on stress and tips to help combat it.

Stress can affect anyone, and usually occurs when we feel pressure from demanding circumstances.

The link between stress and coronary heart disease (CHD) is being explored through ongoing research. CHD occurs when your heart’s blood supply is obstructed by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. CHD is one of the top causes of death for men and women in the UK.

Although evidence is growing, there’s no certainty about a direct link between stress and CHD. Stress is difficult to measure, making this area of study complex.

Long-term stress can affect the heart by releasing chemicals including cortisol and adrenaline in the body. These increase blood pressure and can encourage clotting in the arteries. Research is being undertaken to find out more about the effects of these chemicals on the body.

Although research hasn’t shown stress to be a direct cause, it can have an impact on the risk of developing CHD. Read on to find out how you can minimise the impact of stress on your heart.

1. Identify the Cause of Your Stress

Large workloadIf you’re able to pinpoint the cause of your stress, it will make it easier to resolve.

Your health always comes first, so think about your options. If you’re stressed at work, this could mean negotiating with your manager or dropping less important tasks from your schedule. Changing even one aspect of your life can help take the weight off your shoulders.

2. Change How You Respond to Stress

Our reaction to stress is what links it to CHD, as lifestyle choices like smoking and excessive drinking can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Think about both your physical and mental reactions to stress and how you could make positive changes.

Your physical responses could be tension, anxiety, or changes in your breathing. An effective way to combat these is to practise relaxation techniques. Take some slow, deep breaths and remind yourself that feeling stressed won’t help you make positive changes.

It can be difficult to change how your body reacts to stress. But, you can adjust your mental response to stressful situations. Try challenging any negative thoughts and replace them with helpful thoughts.

3. Make Positive Lifestyle Choices

Healthy food in heart bowlWhen you feel stressed, you may rely on unhealthy habits like smoking and eating junk food to make you feel better. These directly impact your heart’s health, taking a toll on your long-term health and wellbeing.

Stress can reduce your motivation to make healthier choices in life. But, breaking bad habits is a positive step forward. Follow these tips to reduce the negative impact of stress:

  • Exercise: Doing moderate exercise five days a week will help to boost your mood. It will also give you more energy, a positive self-image and a lower risk of CHD.
  • Eat healthy and drink more water: Some people may turn to high-calorie or sugary foods when they feel stressed. Try eating balanced meals and have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Also cut down on salt and sugar, and drink plenty of water.
  • Keep alcohol to a minimum: Alcohol is a depressant that can lower your mood and increase the risk of a heart attack. It’s fine to have alcoholic drinks in moderation, but avoid overdoing it.
  • Stop smoking: Many people smoke cigarettes when they are stressed. Actively try to stop smoking by using aids like nicotine patches, gum and e-cigarettes.
  • Relax: Always make time for resting, whether that’s focusing on your breathing or sitting down with a good book.
  • Talk about your situation: A mistake that many people make is to keep their worries to themselves. By talking to friends, family, support groups or even a counsellor, you can gain a different perspective on your circumstances.
  • Manage your workload: If your stress is a result of a busy workload, it’s vital to recognise your cut-off point. Never be afraid to say “no” or explain that you simply don’t have the capacity to take on another task.


The information in our blog articles is for personal use only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment plans. We are not medical health practitioners or mental health providers. If you’re worried about a potential medical condition, contact your GP or call an ambulance in an emergency situation.