Heart Healthy Tips to Deal with Stress

THPG_Dr. Sandra Illum_low-res

Dr. Sandra Illum, Cardiologist

Is stress affecting your heart health?

According to Sandra Illum, M.D., a physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano and HeartFirst, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice – the most likely answer is yes.

Stress is almost unavoidable between the constant demands of work, family, health, personal relationships and the economy – all of which can cause anxiety and take a toll on one’s mental and physical health. According to the American Heart Association, there are many unhealthy responses to stress such as body aches and pains, loss of energy, anxiety, depression, and forgetfulness, to name a few.

“As a practicing cardiologist, I see firsthand how stress can affect the human body,” says Dr.Illum.  “Many of my patients develop cardiac related issues as a result of stress in their lives.”

Helpful suggestions for stress relief! 

“Everybody responds in various ways to stress, and it is important to find healthy outlets and activities to deal with it,” says Dr. Illum. “I work with my patients to determine their stress triggers and then find ways to focus on the things that specifically help them.”

She offers several tips that can help you manage your stress level:

  • Exercise, and that does not mean marathon training. Simply walking your dog, trying a yoga class, swimming, or riding a bike can help you cope with stress. Find an activity you enjoy and do it for 30 minutes each day.
  • Proper sleep is extremely important. Dr. Illum recommends at least 7 hours a night. Exercising helps with quality of sleep too.
  • Eat a nutritious diet filled with lean meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, and drink lots of water.
  • Talk it out. Talking to a family member or a good friend about what is bothering you may help reduce the stress you are feeling.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. If you smoke, quit.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed, make a list and slowly go through each task and mark it off. You don’t have to do everything at once. This may help you feel more in control and organized.

For more information and helpful tips on heart health, please visit TexasHealth.org/Heart.

Physicians employed by Texas Health Physicians Group practice independently and are not employees of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

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