There may be many ways in which stress can affect us, these can manifest as physical symptoms such as a headache or stomach pains or signs such as irritability, reduced concentration, excessive tiredness or disturbed sleep.
Long term stress can lead to low mood, anxiety, reduced energy, lack of motivation or feelings of hopelessness. Stress can sometimes affect our ability to fight infection.
Stress can come from multiple sources, health problems including a diagnosis of a heart condition, financial worries, worries about changing your lifestyle including work and relationships can also affect our wellbeing.
You might be feeling low, worried, anxious or concerned about your health or that of those close to you. These are all common reactions to difficult situations that we may face. Everyone reacts differently to events and change in the way that we think, feel and behave and this can vary between different people and over time. It is important to take care of your mind as well as your body.
When an individual feels worried or upset they may comfort eat, drink more alcohol or smoke and this could have a longer term negative effect on your health and wellbeing. Noting changes in behaviour may be difficult but could be an indicator of hidden stress affecting your lifestyle.
Managing stress can improve your overall health; eating a balanced diet and doing gentle exercise has been shown to help your mental wellbeing and heart health. It is important to identify when you are feeling stressed and try to make changes in how you respond to stressful situations or events may help to avoid more long term negative effects.
Exercising, not smoking or drinking, enjoying a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight are good ways to help deal with stress. It is better longer term to try to deal with stress early on with a healthy lifestyle and stress management strategies such as relaxation techniques or stress management classes.
Often talking to someone may help. Sometimes it can be difficult to ask for help, but Cardiomyopathy UK has a dedicated helpline with trained nurses who can listen, advise and support you.
Cardiomyopathy UK Support groups are available online, they offer the chance to meet and share experiences with other people diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, where you can talk or listen in a supportive and friendly environment. Details of all of our support groups can be found on our website. We also offer our ‘coffee & catch up’ community chat sessions which are held every Friday at 2pm, a chance to catch up and make friends.
Telephone peer support is also available to you through the charity where we arrange for you to speak one to one with someone who understands what having cardiomyopathy or myocarditis feels like and how they manage to live well.
If you think that stress is affecting your life make an appointment to see your GP, they may be able to offer you advice and guidance.
For more information about coping with stress, download our booklet- ‘An introduction to emotional health and wellbeing’ or call our helpline on 0800 018 1024.