Stress can be a killer. Stress is a real problem today, because women have never been more mentally engaged on a continual basis than at our current point in history. Your business and personal demands, the constant onslaught of hundreds of media messages and the almost frantic pace of our busy lifestyles can and does create a very stressful environment.

It’s easier to identify food or alcohol as possibly causing health problems, but women sometimes have a harder time identifying stress as a stressor. If you are overweight, it is easy for you to see eating too much of the wrong foods as the culprit. You can see food, taste and smell it. This makes it simple to identify your unhealthy approach to food as causing your overweight or obese problem.

However, stress is not a physical thing. It is not something you can point to and say, “That is what stress is.” It is a mental, emotional and sometimes even a negative spiritual experience. As hard as it may be for you to point out the stressors in your life, it is critically important to be able to do so for one very important reason: Your heart is healthier when you are stress-free.

When your heart is sick, your entire body is sick. If your heart does not work properly, your incidence rate of stroke and heart attack, heart disease, some cancers, overweight and obesity, and a long list of health problems increases dramatically.

Stress causes reactions in your body intended to protect you from whatever stressful situation you are experiencing. Unfortunately, the hormones and chemicals released as a response to stress can also lead to a weak heart when stress is chronic, i.e., constant or consistent.

Work to identify those situations which cause you to become anxious and frustrated. Look for patterns which make you feel stressed out. Practice meditation, take a walk outside in the sunshine or start exercising regularly. These are all proven stress busters. And stress busters can have a significant and healthy impact on your heart.