How to Relax and Unwind to Prevent a Stroke

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You hear it all the time. Lower your stress for better health. Anxiety leads to high blood pressure. Stress can contribute to diabetes. A high-pressure lifestyle is a risk factor for cancer, heart disease and stroke. Chronic worry, apprehension and nervousness start in your 20’s or even earlier, and can produce a number of chemical and hormonal changes in your body that contribute to serious health problems starting as early as your 30’s.

Controlling stress is one of the most important and most difficult ways to reduce your risk of stroke.

On the flip side, relaxing and enjoying life is the opposite of stress. Some people may mistakenly believe that passivity is the opposite of stress. However, being indifferent or lazy is not the reverse of being stressed. Reducing stress means replacing anxious feelings with feelings of tranquility and happiness, not apathy. Relaxation, taking it easy and staying cool and calm seem to come so easily for some people and not for others. If you are more prone to anxiety, nervousness and tension than to calmness, how can you relax?

Some Tips to Help You Stay Relaxed and Stress-Free

Unwind

When it is time to take a break, it feels better to unwind when you want to, not when you are finally about to breakdown from exhaustion. Sure, sometimes it feels great to ‘give it all you’ve got’ and run a marathon or tackle a huge project and then collapse in the midst of an extraordinary sense of accomplishment.

But, on a regular basis, your unwinding will do more good if you recharge your batteries before they have completely run out.

Know When Enough is Enough When it Comes to Achievement

Some people are so competitive that no achievement or accomplishment is ever enough. Extreme and unhealthy competitiveness can take a negative turn when it involves jealously, wishing bad outcomes on others and even sabotaging peers.

People can fall into competitiveness about positions at work, money, home décor, children’s accomplishments, and social status. However, the reason this is so harmful is that there is never an endpoint when it comes to achievement. The fact that everything you do could still be done better could be viewed as either liberating or anxiety provoking, depending on your attitude.  Those who are prone to extreme emotions based on other’s perceptions tend to have a somewhat weak sense of self that depends on achievements and on the approval of others. However, the tension may harm your body on the quest to the unachievable and amorphous goal of external approval. If you see yourself in this position, it may help to get some professional therapy or join a support group so that you can begin to live a physically and mentally and emotionally healthy life for years to come.

Don't Allow Negativity to Consume Your Energy

Stress from toxic people around you can add to your stroke risk. There are simply people who exude a sense of negativity, people who are most satisfied when those around them do not get along with each other, people who like pushing your buttons, and people whose primary source of self-worth comes from causing insecurity in others.

Co-workers, supervisors, neighbors and family members can poison your environment if you are not vigilant about setting boundaries and strongly protecting your happiness from being disrupted by others who do not have your best interests at heart.

Allow Yourself to Have Fun

Fun is a necessity in life. Those who are deprived of enjoyment due to severe disease or horrible living conditions often cannot control their own activities. Yet, if you have some control over your time and your activities, you need to make an effort to have fun. Recognize that fun isn't the same for everyone. For some, it may be going to a spa, for others playing golf, swimming, exercising, going dancing or taking a walk, going to an amusement park, catching up with friends, cooking, gardening, reading, writing and even working. There are so many definitions of fun, and you can probably list at least 10-20 things that you consider fun. Everyone- including you- deserves to have fun, regardless of age or health status.

Winning

Winning is satisfying. But winning isn’t everything. The game itself should also be fun for you- and if it isn’t, then you probably shouldn’t be playing it!

Count the Good Things

Taking time out to ‘count your blessings’ may seem trite to some, but it is far from a waste of time. Appreciating the good experiences, the warm memories and the ‘lucky’ breaks that you have had can help you put the negatives in perspective. And it is always wonderful to relive good experiences more than once!

Lowering stress is almost a cliché. But getting rid of stress really means replacing it with a sense of ease and relaxation. That is one of the most powerful stroke prevention habits you can make.

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