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Heart Health Center

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How Job Stress Affects Your Heart

Speak Up

Sometimes, your anger and anxiety are signs that you need to speak up, Williams says. Ask yourself if it’s worth the effort to try to change things at work.

If it is, be assertive. Calmly explain the problem to your boss and suggest a solution. For instance, you might ask for more time to complete your work, for setting priorities for your tasks, or even for more training to move into a different role.

When employees use communication skills like these, Williams says, they take control of the problem. Their levels of anxiety and depression, and their blood pressure, all go down.

You might also want to talk to the human resources department.  Chances are, your company offers wellness programs to help you handle stress. “It’s important to tap into available resources,” says David Ballard, PsyD, a psychologist who specializes in promoting employee well-being. “But only about a third of employees use them.”

Chill Out

On the other hand, you might decide that your energy is better spent on relaxation. “The key is to find behaviors that get you back to your pre-stress levels,” Ballard says.  Try these tips:

  1. Have fun in your off-hours. Find an activity you love and throw yourself into it. Maybe it’s volunteering or joining a theatre group or singing in a choir. The only rule? Enjoy yourself and don’t think about work.
  2. Relax. Find ways to unwind. Try a hobby, sports, reading, meditation or prayer, or anything else you enjoy that enhances your life.
  3. Move. Get up from your desk a couple of times an hour and stretch. Or take a walk on your lunch break. Spending time in green spaces like parks can curb feelings of depression and anxiety.
  4. Connect with others. “When you’re stressed out, you tend to disconnect from your relationships. And that’s exactly the opposite of what you need,” Ballard says. Isolating yourself can raise your risk for heart disease.  Your friends can help you get through the rocky times, so keep them close.
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Reviewed on April 27, 2015

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