While for many, the New Year can mark the start of new beginnings, for others it can feel overwhelming. Much of this is due to coming off of the euphoria and relaxed pace of the holiday season and even the pressure of having to try and keep up on New Year resolutions. The fact is, come January, the normalcy of life returns; it is winter, it is cold and the juggling of kids and work responsibilities all come back with a vengeance. In fact, Blue Monday takes place every year on the third Monday of each January in what largely the media has hyped as the most depressing day of year despite several scientific studies to the contrary. Regardless, it is easy to feel a little more down and overwhelmed around this time of year. Here are some signs that you may be feeling a little overwhelmed and over-stressed and some practical tips to help you feel better. After all, stress is a contributor to what causes heart disease so it is important to find ways to help reduce stress when you feel overwhelmed.
You Feel Perpetually Sick
If it feels like every week you have a cough, sore throat or a fever that you can’t seem to shake, it can be a sign of too much stress. When you feel stressed, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol that helps in the short-term. This same hormone is also part of your immune system, so if you are stressed over the long-term, your body becomes depleted of cortisol and makes you more susceptible to sickness.
What to do:
Listen to your body. Allow yourself some extra sleep and rest especially if you have been travelling or been working long hours. A tired body is not prepared to cope with stressful situations and ward of illness.
Have Trouble Focusing and Concentrating
When you are overwhelmed and facing tough situations you may find it hard to focus on tasks right in front of you. Or you may find that you forget simple things such as names of co-workers. That is due to the cortisol hormone that is released to deal with stress as it can shrink the part of the brain that controls memory. In the long term, this can stimulate proteins that might cause Alzheimer’s disease.
What to do:
If find you are experiencing these lapses in memory or lack of concentration, take some long deep breaths; inhale and exhale slowly. This sort of breathing will help control heart rate and blood flow, plus it helps reduce muscle tension.
After a long day at work, sleep should come easy, because your body will naturally crave rest. But, if you find yourself waking up or ruminating over things it can be a sign of anxiety and depression.
What to do:
Talk to your doctor if this is a regular occurrence to determine if chronic stress may have led to depression. If you find you are getting less than six hours of sleep each night, determine what may be causing that. Also, try cutting back on caffeine and alcohol. Also, increasing exercise during the day can help improve sleeping patterns. Plus, regular exercise does help combat stress, not to mention it helps improve your cardiovascular health.
How to Use This Information
Here at South Denver Cardiology, we want you to be more than just heart healthy. We want to celebrate your full health. We all know that feeling overwhelmed can have adverse effects on your heart. Our stress testing can help to see how you are doing. Call us at (303) 744-1065 or contact us online.