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Heart Month: Are You Managing Stress?

Heart Month: Are You Managing Stress?

Are you managing stress?

Years ago I worked for a health management company, in the health education department. We taught group classes about stress management, because we knew stress impacts our physical bodies. A team of us understood that “health” is not ONLY check-ups, or ONLY diet, or ONLY physical fitness – it’s also about managing the stress in your life, taking care of your mental health, and getting a good night’s sleep.

We all have stress in our lives.

Stress hits everyone. Some days, weeks or years are worse than others. Stress can show up in many ways – you may experience headaches, trouble sleeping, over- or under-eating, difficulty concentrating, sleep disruption, or simply feelings of overwhelm. Learning how to manage stress may sound daunting. Try focusing on one de-stressing behavior at a time.

We have a whole chapter dedicated to managing stress, enlisting support, and staying on track with lifestyle changes in Chapter 16 of our DASH Diet For Dummies® book.

Where do you start? Here are a few places you can start your journey:


A positive mindset is not always natural, but can be learned. You can coach yourself into thinking about situations in a different light. How are you viewing the situation? How are you talking to yourself? Simply taking a deep inhale and exhale and telling yourself, “I can get through this” can help. Shifting from thinking the worst, to a perspective of gratitude can really help. Instead of saying, “I can’t believe I screwed up,” say, “I’m human, and everyone makes mistakes. I can fix it or begin again.” Instead of saying “Why is this happening to me?” reframe it as “This will help me grow.”

Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” say, “I’ll do the best I can. I’ve got this.”Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” say, “I’ll do the best I can. I’ve got this.” Click To Tweet

Physical activity and Fresh Air

Choosing some exercise you enjoy, or adding more natural movement into your day, supports your health in many ways. It helps keep your muscles and bones strong. It also gets those “feel good chemicals” moving in your brain. Even 10-15 minute breaks, to walk your dog, or play with your pet, or do some yoga stretches in your living room or office, can help. Put on some music and dance for a few minutes. Meet a friend for a walk after work, or plan a bike ride or hike with your children. My grandmother always advised that walk outside will do you good. Fresh air changes our mood, almost instantly. In our world, it’s easy to just stay indoors. Take at least 15 minutes every day to open the door, step outside, and take a short break.


This is tricky, because it’s often difficult to get to sleep when you’re stressed. However inadequate sleep can increase stress levels. Getting adequate sleep is can impact stress levels, heart health, and even your weight. There’s lots of evidence that sleep helps with weight management.You might find you seek out food or beverage as an aid to remedy your exhaustion. Reach out to someone to talk to, and ask your doctor for some advice if you are really experiencing disruptive sleep.

Life is challenging, don’t go it alone.

Enlist a family member or friend to help talk things through with. Find a friend who can meet you for some weekly walks. Make mealtime with family members a time to unplug and relax. Do your best to stay positive, and reduce your risk.