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Published on November 28, 2017

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Why you need to manage chronic stress

How to keep stress in check so it doesn't affect your health.

Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives. Although stress can't always be avoided, it is important to find ways to manage it so it doesn't become chronic.

Chronic stress can have a significant impact on your heart health. Unhealthy levels of stress hormones may raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Stress may also contribute to increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as diabetes. Additionally, stress is often the root cause of many unhealthy behaviors that increase heart disease risk, such as smoking, overeating and drinking.

In addition to your heart, stress can also impact how you sleep, your ability to lose or maintain weight and your productivity at work.

How can you keep stress in check? Here are 3 simple steps to a more stress-free life:

  • Be kind to yourself. One of the best ways to keep stress at bay is to make it a priority to take care of your own needs. It seems simple enough, but this is hard for many people to do, especially women who tend to put themselves last on their list of priorities. If this sounds like you, consider this: you will be a better mother, daughter, wife, caregiver, employee and friend if you are relaxed, healthy and happy. So spend some time everyday focusing on you, even if it's just for 10-15 minutes.
  • Find a favorite stress-buster. Do whatever helps you de-stress and recharge. For some people, writing in a journal, taking a short nap or sharing a good laugh with a close friend works wonders to improve mood. Others find that organizing their desks or cleaning out their closets helps relieve stress.  Still others benefit from a brisk walk or a trip to the gym when tension starts to rise.
  • Ask for help. Even if you can do it all, why should you? Over time, you are bound to get exhausted, resentful and stressed out. Learn to say "no" to every request of your time and energy. Seek help from family and friends when needed. If you've done all you can do to de-stress but still feel the pressure, talk to a professional or join a support group.

Copyright 2017 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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