Learning how to reduce stress is an important part of living with heart disease.
Decreasing stress has emotional and physical benefits, so women who attend cardiac rehab will most likely participate in stress reduction classes. Though there are many ways to alleviate stress, some techniques may be more helpful for certain women. Because of this, stress reduction classes usually introduce a variety of techniques and methods so that women can discover what works best.
Why Reduce Stress?
Your body has a natural response to situations that threaten your wellbeing – this is called stress. Every stress you encounter triggers your body’s stress response, and continues to build up tension. When too much stress inundates your life, and your body is constantly in its stress-response mode, health problems can occur.
Because stress causes your blood pressure and heart rate to increase, your heart works harder. Stress also weakens the immune system. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to minimize stress, especially after having a cardiac event. Since the event itself is stressful, as is the recovery process, cardiac rehab programs place emphasis on stress reduction classes and techniques.
Types of Stress Reduction
Depending on preferences and physical abilities, a variety of stress reduction techniques are helpful for patients with heart disease. Various classes may focus on deep breathing techniques, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, gentle yoga, affirmations, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Deep Breathing Techniques: using deep breathing to control tension in the body
- Guided Imagery: a method that encourages using meditative imagery for relaxation, and is easy for any patient (including those with physical limitations)
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: a technique that involves tightening and then releasing all muscle tension within the body
- Gentle Yoga: a technique that sometimes requires more physical ability, yoga employs deep breathing, muscle relaxation, imagery and movement to reduce stress
- Affirmations: ways of using positivity to reinforce positive behavior and reduce stress
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: a technique for patients to understand emotions and thoughts that affect their decisions and their current states.
The list above is not exhaustive as there are many other ways to reduce stress. For instance, basic exercise is another way to reduce stress and also works to improve your physical wellbeing.
Additional Resources for Stress Reduction
Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011
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