It should come as no surprise that being stressed can be hard on your heart. Stress increases inflammation in your body and may contribute to known heart risk factors such as high blood pressure. It can also cause you to make less-than-healthy choices, such as overeating, drinking too much alcohol, smoking or using drugs. And it may make you less likely to eat healthy foods, exercise, sleep well or maintain a healthy weight. All of these effects increase your risk of heart disease.
Although many aspects of your life can be stressful, one area where you may feel you can’t escape stress is at work. But over time, work stress can damage your heart, especially if you’re a woman. One study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that women experiencing job and social strain had a 21 percent higher risk of developing heart disease.
So what are you supposed to do if work causes you stress?
One option is to leave your stressful job, but that’s not usually the best option for most people. These strategies help you de-stress during the work day so your job doesn’t take a toll on your heart health—or your overall mental and physical health:
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