Stress and Heart Disease: What's the Link?

Published: Feb. 5, 2024

February is American Heart Month – a perfect time to raise awareness of the effects of stress on heart health. 

You probably can’t go a whole day without using or hearing the phrase, “I’m stressed!” It’s used so often that you may not think stress can be damaging to your health. But it can be! 

In ongoing stress-provoking situations – like a monthslong job search or if you’re worried that bills can’t be paid – chronic stress can lead to risk factors for heart disease.

Big Issues = Big Stress

“Chronic stress occurs when we struggle with big issues over a long period of time: financial insecurity, dysfunctional relationships and deeply dissatisfying jobs, to name a few,” said Dave Dechant, MS, CCP, curriculum development coordinator with Best Care EAP. “If this chronic stress goes on too long, it intensifies and becomes physically and mentally harmful.”

Stress Less for a Healthier Heart

In order to make progress with getting your stress levels under control, first acknowledge that your daily hustle may contribute to your chronic stressful situation. Acknowledging something means you slow down enough to focus on it. Here’s how Best Care EAP staff members acknowledge and deal with stress:

  • “When I experience any anxiety, the first thing I do is identify the source. Then I evaluate which things I need help with and which of those I can solve myself. Then before I know it, my sense of control is restored because I resolved my anxiety.” – Brigette
  • “Working with our amazing counselors, I’ve learned some critical mindfulness practices that help get me out of my stress loop and focus on what’s happening in the moment so I don’t continue to catastrophize the what-ifs that I tend to dwell on. These practices help me become more self-aware.” – Kim
  • “I actually keep a journal and write down things that irritate and stress me. I take it a step further and include ways I feel I can fix the situation. That makes me feel proactive and productive.” – Lisa

Ongoing stress can also affect other aspects of your health. Communicating with your health care provider can help find connections between stress and your body. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains more in this helpful information flyer.  

Try Meditation for a Healthier Heart

Developing a peaceful mindset can help boost heart health, and meditation is one tactic to try. Regular practice can be an effective approach for managing both acute and chronic stress. Start now by checking out Best Care EAP's Meditation webinar. 

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to control all the stressors in life, but you can control how you react and respond. Take a deep breath, think positive, and start protecting your heart today!

Know When It’s More Than Just Stress

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with stress by practicing the relaxation ideas shared above, remember your Best Care EAP benefit. Best Care EAP’s licensed, professional counselors are here to help you. Remember, your dependents are eligible to visit with our counselors, too. To get started, complete the Counseling Registration Form. If you have issues with the form, please call our office at (402) 354-8000 or (800) 801-4182, and we’ll be glad to help. 

Additional Resources to Boost Your Well-Being

Best Care EAP offers free educational resources on our Resource Hub. You’ll find informative webinars and articles in a number of different categories, including addiction, trauma, job and career, family, legal, and finance. We invite you to spend some time looking around!