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​Stress sets off a chain of events. First, you have a stressful situation that's usually upsetting but not harmful. The body reacts to it by releasing a hormone, adrenaline, that causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. These physical reactions prepare you to deal with the situation by confronting it or by running away from it — the "fight or flight" response. When stress is constant (chronic), your body remains in high gear and on for days or weeks at a time. The link between stress and heart disease is not clear. However, chronic stress that causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure may damage the artery walls.

Taking steps to manage stress has a double benefit. The actions you take will help you feel less stressed right away. They'll also help you feel more in control of your life and give you a greater sense of well-being, which will also decrease your stress.

Here are four simple techniques for managing stress:

Positive Self-Talk. We all talk to ourselves; sometimes we talk out loud but, usually, we keep self-talk in our heads. Positive self-talk ("I can do this" or "Things will work out") helps you calm down and control stress.

Emergency Stress Stoppers. There are many stressful situations — at work, at home, on the road, and in public places. We may feel stress because of poor communication, too much work, and everyday hassles like standing in line. Emergency stress stoppers help you deal with stress on the spot such as counting to 10 before you speak, taking three to five deep breaths, and walking away from the situation.

Finding Pleasure. When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good! Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight off stress. You don't have to do a lot to find pleasure. Even if you're ill or down, you can find pleasure in simple things such as going for a drive, chatting with a friend, or reading a good book. Try to do at least one thing every day that you enjoy, even if you only do it for 15 minutes.

Daily Relaxation. Relaxation is more than sitting in your favorite chair watching TV. To relieve stress, relaxation should calm the tension in your mind and body. Some good forms of relaxation are yoga, tai chi (a series of slow, graceful movements), and meditation. Like most skills, relaxation takes practice. Many people join a class to learn and practice relaxation skills. Deep breathing is a form of relaxation you can learn and practice at home. It's a good skill to practice as you start or end your day.

Source: www.AmericanHeart.org

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