Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme Stress Management. Andrea Papitsch-Clark Clinical Health Psychologist. Stress in everyday life. What does it feel like to be stressed? What does it feel like not to be stressed? What causes YOU stress?
Clinical Health Psychologist
Adrenaline is released when our brains perceive we are under threat or in danger. Evolutionary fight or flight response.
Body's reaction:The effect:
Useful in real emergency…but not in everyday hassles
Too much adrenaline = Bad
Most people have raised adrenaline levels after a cardiac event - normal to feel worried.
Any other worries or events can be enough to put adrenaline levels even higher
Some adrenaline = Good
to CHD, but we can’t say for certain whether
stress directly causes CHD.
….BUT Long-term stress can make us feel miserable, drained and unwell.
It can affect our attitude or ‘state of mind’ and make us rely on ‘short-term fixes’ like smoking, drinking, not exercising, unhealthy eating,
all of which DO contribute to heart disease…
….ALSO stress can affect the heart by releasing certain hormones that increase blood pressure and can encourage clotting of the arteries.
Stress can also make us feel less motivated to spend time on healthy behaviours such as relaxation or exercise.
“There’s nothing that will help me”
“I’m not getting better, I’m getting worse”
“It’s dangerous for people with heart problems to argue”
“I should be able to cope”
This can lead to a vicious cycle, with unhelpful thoughts raising adrenaline and producing unpleasant physical effects, which leads to more worrying thoughts, in turn leading to more stress and so on…
“There’s not much you can do about heart problems”
“There’s something wrong with my heart”
Raised anxiety, fear, frustration
Stop what doing, reduce overall activity, lose fitness etc.
e.g. increase adrenaline (increase HR, faster breathing, tension etc.)
Remember that unhelpful thoughts can raise adrenaline levels, and in turn increase stress. BUT: can try to challenge unhelpful thoughts
“My heart is not worn out”
“Most people make a full recovery after a heart attack”
“There are many things I can do to prevent CHD”
“It was a blockage in an artery – not the heart that
caused the problem”
“Relaxation is not just being lazy it’s important for
health and well-being”
“There are many things I can do to fight CHD”
Healthy lifestyle changes, active, see friends, set goals
Positive, calm, optimistic, motivated
Rest and relaxation are as important as work. Relaxation is more than just watching TV!