Skip to content
Two adults laughing on a bench

Lower stress to keep your heart strong

Everyone feels stress sometimes. But chronic stress — feeling stressed most or all the time — is bad news for your heart. It causes your body to release adrenaline, which speeds up your heart rate and raises your blood pressure.

Learning ways to prevent and manage stress can lower your risk for heart problems and help you feel your best.

What can I do to feel calmer right away?

Breathe deeply

If you’re starting to feel stressed or overwhelmed, try this simple breathing exercise:

  • Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose
  • Keep breathing in until your belly puffs out
  • Breathe out slowly through your mouth
  • Repeat until you feel calmer

Pay attention to your emotions

Think about what’s happening in your body when you’re feeling stressed and try to name your emotions. Are you worried? Angry? Overwhelmed? Remember, all feelings are valid — don’t judge yourself or try to reason your feelings away. Sometimes just naming an emotion can help you process and move through it.

Move your body

Physical activity can help lower stress right away. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try to get moving — take a walk around the block or simply get up and move around your home. Learn more about the benefits of getting active.

What changes can I make to lower stress in the long term?

Make time for yourself

Finding time to focus on yourself can be hard with a hectic schedule — but taking breaks and doing things you enjoy is important. If you find that your personal time keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list, try making it part of your schedule — just like you would with anything else! Choose a set time each week to try out a new hobby or take a walk in nature.

Connect with others

Spending time with family and friends can make a big difference when it comes to easing stress. If you can’t meet in person, take a few minutes each day to call, text, or video chat with someone you love.

Take a break from the news

Scrolling through the news on your phone or having the TV running in the background has become normal for many of us — but constant screen time can be a source of stress. Try setting 1 or 2 specific times a day to check the news and unplug the rest of the day.

How can I get help managing stress?

Ask others for help

Even small tweaks to your routine can make a difference — like asking loved ones to help with things that cause you stress. Asking for help can be hard, but keep in mind that the people you love want to see you thrive! Maybe a partner can take on part of your to-do list or a family member can share caregiving duties for an older parent.

Talk to a health care professional

Mention any feelings of constant stress, sadness, or anxiety to your doctor. They can give you tips for coping with stress and other mental health concerns. They can also refer you to a mental health specialist, like a counselor or psychiatrist.

Call SAMHSA’s national mental health helpline

If you’re not sure where to start, try calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA) national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). You can also use SAMHSA’s tool to find mental health specialists in your area.

If you need help for a mental health crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.