Stress is a normal part of life. Living with a chronic condition can cause more stress than usual at times. It is important to take positive steps to handle stress. Follow these tips and talk to your doctor or nurse if you need more ideas about how to handle stress.

Manage Your Stress: Eight Ways to Ease Stress

  • Don’t turn to food and alcohol to cope. Eating and drinking too much can actually lead to more stress. Drinking alcohol can cause heart failure and make the condition worse. Talk to your doctor or nurse about how much, if any, alcohol is safe to drink.
  • It is ok to say “no” to people. Assert yourself and set limits for yourself. You do not have to meet the demands and expectations of others. Practice standing up for yourself while being respectful of others.
  • Don’t smoke or use nicotine products. Nicotine is found in cigarettes, E-cigarettes, and “vaping” systems. Nicotine is an addictive drug that acts as a stimulant. It causes more symptoms of stress and causes your heart to work harder than normal. In addition, smoking leads to many other problems, including cardiovascular disease.
  • Get regular exercise. Regular exercise can help reduce stress. Choose an enjoyable activity and set reasonable goals. Talk to your doctor or nurse about an exercise program that is safe for you. Aerobic exercise causes your body to release endorphins that help you feel better and stay positive.
  • Take action to reduce stress. Stressors are the things that cause us to feel stress. You can help eliminate stressors by practicing good time management and setting priorities and realistic goals and expectations. You cannot be 100% successful at everything all the time.
  • Relax. Take time every day to relax. Try a mix of aerobic activity and other techniques like tai chi, meditation and yoga to help your body recover from the effects of stress.
  • Take responsibility. You cannot control everything that happens in life. Control what you can and accept that you need to let some things go.
  • Take a self-inventory. When you feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes to remind yourself of the things you do well. A healthy self-esteem helps reduce your stress level.


Tips for Coping with Depression

  • Get dressed every day.
  • Practice stress management and relaxation techniques.
  • Get out of the house and walk every day.
  • Follow your prescribed exercise regimen.
  • Take part in hobbies and social activities you enjoy.
  • Share your feelings with your spouse, friend or a member of the clergy.
  • Get enough sleep at night.
  • Eat well-balanced, healthy meals and stick to your prescribed dietary guidelines.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about support groups to help you cope.
  • Don’t use harmful habits to cope, such as smoking, using drugs, drinking excessively or overeating. These harmful habits increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

When should I get help for depression?

If you feel severely depressed and have symptoms of depression every day for 2 or more weeks, you need treatment to help you cope and recover from depression.You should also see your doctor if you have a lot of trouble getting through your daily routine, social activities or work; if you don’t have anyone to talk to about your feelings. Your doctor or nurse can refer you to a specialist for help.About half of all people who have depression never get diagnosed or treated for the condition. Not knowing a person is depressed is the biggest hurdle to diagnosis and treatment. A lack of treatment can be life-threatening — up to 15% of people with clinical depression commit suicide.

What treatments are available for patients with depression?

There are many treatments used for patients with depression. A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, adequate sleep, and relaxation and stress management techniques can help you manage the condition.

If you have major depressive disorder, you may need to take an antidepressant medication, see a counselor/therapist for psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

There are safe antidepressant medication options for patients with heart failure. Psychotherapy can offer you more social support and help you think in a more positive way.

The support and involvement of family and friends can be crucial in helping someone who is depressed. Living with a depressed person can be very difficult and stressful on family members and friends. If this stress becomes too much, they may want to talk to a doctor or counselor/therapist.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/21/2018.

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