Heart disease is the number one killer of women. The Mayo Clinic presents five reasonably practical and predictable measures to prevent heart disease:
- Don't smoke or use tobacco. (check)
- Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week. (check)
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. (check)
- Maintain a healthy weight. (check)
- Get regular health screenings. (check)
More progressive resources recommend reducing or managing stress to prevent heart disease. Gaiam lists managing stress levels as one of the top ten ways to prevent heart disease for both men and women, recommending meditation, breathing exercises and yoga as methods to achieve less stress.
Here's a few of my favorite ways to reduce stress:
- First and foremost, identify your sources of stress and eliminate them. If there is a person in your life who is poisonous and causes you nothing but trouble, cut them out. If your job causes undue stress, talk to your boss openly about the subject; let them know they are expecting too much of you or that you need to change your hours to better fit your activities outside of work. If worse comes to worse, change careers. A lifetime full of stress at a job you dislike will only shorten the time you spend doing things you enjoy. Finally, reduce visual clutter. Clutter can cause unnecessary stress. Live simply.
- Get enough rest. Aim for eight hours of sleep a night. I know this isn't easy. I rarely get that much sleep myself. But try to make it a priority. Make it a goal to be in bed an hour before you need to be to get your eight hours. Read until you start to fall asleep. Talk to your companions (husband or fury ones) about your day. If you aim to be in bed well before it's time, you'll almost certainly achieve that goal.
- Spend time with your furry loved ones. Speaking of furry companions, they are great stress reducers on their own. Try being sad when a ball of fluff cuddles up in your lap on the couch or greets you at the front door after a long, hard day at the office. Pets also make great listeners and they don't judge you, so go ahead and vent about the woman at work who thinks Zumba is the equivalent of an intense workout and thinks diet Coke is part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Be social and have fun. There's a certain truth to the old saying, "laughter is the best medicine." Laughter reduces stress. Having fun and being social with friends and family allows you to forget about the factors that cause stress. Live. Laugh. Love. A LOT.
- Seek out alternative wellness options that focus on you. Taking time for yourself is important for achieving total health and wellness. Spending an hour a month on a massage table or with a reflexologist is a great way to focus on your qi. Detoxing your body, muscles and mind can do wonders to lift your mood and allow you to forget about stress.
This weekend, however, I had my first ever reflexology appointment with essential oils. It was ah-maze-ing. As I laid on the table and rest my eyes, I could feel my entire being tingling. I felt radiant when I left, from my head to my peppermint and lavender-scented feet.
Some benefits of the practice of reflexology include enhanced sleep quality, greater energy, improved concentration, and **ding ding ding** reduced stress!
Living a healthy lifestyle may require work, but you cannot forget about the end goal: a healthy, happy you. Remember to take time out for yourself and reduce stress.
You're too blessed to be stressed.