Stress Management

What’s stressful for one person isn’t for another. Happy events (new marriage, job promotion, new home) and unhappy events (illness, being overworked, family problems) can cause stress.
An older White woman is holding a plank pose and smiling while participating in a co-ed, multi-ethnic, fitness class.

Everyone feels and reacts to stress in different ways. How much stress you experience and how you react to it can lead to a wide variety of health problems — and that’s why it’s critical to know what you can do about it.

Stress can:

  • Cause a headache, back strain or stomach pains.
  • Zap your energy.
  • Disrupt your sleep.
  • Make you feel cranky, forgetful or out of control.

A stressful situation sets off a chain of events. Your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. These reactions prepare you to deal with the situation — the “fight or flight” response.

Chronic stress is when stress is constant and your body is in high gear off and on for days or weeks at a time. Chronic stress may lead to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Can managing stress reduce or prevent a stroke?

Managing stress is good for your health and well-being.
Negative psychological health/mental health is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke and can lead to:
  • Depression
  • Chronic stress
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Pessimism
  • Dissatisfaction with life
These conditions are associated with potentially harmful responses in our bodies such as:
  • Irregular heart rate and rhythm
  • Increased digestive problems
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Inflammation
  • Reduced blood flow to the heart

What can I do about stress?

Figuring out how stress affects you is an important step in dealing with it. Identify sources of stress in your life and look for ways to reduce and manage them. A health care professional can help you find ways to manage your stress.

Fortunately, you can manage stress in ways such as:

  • Being physically active. It can relieve stress, tension, anxiety and depression. Try a nature walk, meditation or yoga. Check community colleges or rehab programs at hospitals in your community.
  • Making time for friends and family. It’s important to maintain social connections and talk with people you trust.
  • Getting enough sleep. Adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours a night.
  • Maintaining a positive attitude. Focus on the positive things in your life rather than the negative ones.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques while listening to music.
  • Adapting serenity to your life. Aim for balance and harmony even in the busyness and stress of life.
  • Finding a stimulating hobby that can be fun and distract you from negative thoughts or worries.