The 29th September each year marks World Heart Day – a global intervention to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD) and encourage people to make healthy heart choices.
Scarily, CVD is responsible for 17.3 million deaths worldwide every year and is the UK’s number one killer. Most heart disease is preventable though and being aware helps to reduce the risk of it ever developing.
Unsurprisingly, contributing factors include smoking, excessive drinking and eating unhealthily (see the importance of a healthy breakfast). Perhaps less well recognised as a danger, is stress.
Stress signs & symptoms
Although unproven to be a direct link, stress puts us in a state of emotion that increases the likelihood of succumbing to those high-risk lifestyle choices. Evidence from Harvard Medical School also suggests that psychological factors can contribute to cardiac issues.
Feelings such as depression, anxiety and anger heighten your chances of becoming stressed and developing heart problems. These reactions are often intertwined with day-to-day issues found in the workplace and financially.
There are lots of ways to help beat stress including regular breaks and taking time for lunch away from work to get some fresh air. It is also important to get a good night’s sleep to maintain energy levels and be at your best. Sleep deprivation can have profound consequences on your physical health, and periods of insomnia are often linked to stress. Reading a book before bed or taking a warm bath can help you to relax and drift off.
Exercises designed to de-stress
Physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy – the NHS recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week. The best stress-relieving exercises include low intensity activities such as yoga, jogging, water aerobics, biking and pilates.
The Stress Management Society recommends yoga as one of the oldest health practices – it has been around for over 3,000 years and brings together mind, body and spirit. As well as reducing anxiety and lowering blood pressure, yoga can improve your posture, increase strength, reduce tension in muscles and help you sleep better.
We’ve collaborated with Jayne Becca – a yoga teacher and health and wellness blogger from Bristol – to provide you with an easy-to-follow video tutorial.
“Maintaining a yoga practice can be a great way to reduce stress, stay in shape and calm the mind.
My video incorporates some of my favourite poses to de-stress and is the perfect sequence to calm the mind and restore the body before bed.
Yoga helps us to slow down and tune into our breathing. Focusing in this way allows us to become very present – letting go of our day and any stresses that might have encountered.
So light a couple of candles, roll out your yoga mat, dim the lights and press play.“