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Assertive Communication Can Lessen Stress, Improve Heart Health

May 10, 2013

Did you know that you may be able to experience less stress if you speak up? Since less stress means less strain on your heart, you can improve your cardiovascular health when you improve your communication skills.

Reduce Stress

You may imagine that you will help your heart if you let things go and say less but CardioSmart.org offers advice that might seem counterintuitive:

"Poor communication is one of the biggest causes of stress at work and home. Being unable to talk about your needs, concerns, and frustrations can create stress."

You may think that it is best to hold things in or forget about them, not realizing that the physical effects may be long lasting. Your emotions can affect heart health and when you think you have let something go, you may still hold onto some tension.

Note that being assertive is not the same as being aggressive:

“Assertive communication means speaking up for yourself in a thoughtful, tactful way. Being assertive helps you express yourself about things that matter to you. This reduces stress by helping you feel more in control of a situation.”

You can try the "LADDER" method to think about how you can be more assertive.

L - Look at the situation.

A - Arrange a suitable time and place for a discussion

D- Define the problem for the person (because he or she may not know.)

D - Describe your feelings using "I" statements. Try to focus on your feelings and avoid blaming or shaming the other person.

E- Express what you would like to see happen in specific terms

R - Reinforce the idea by illustrating how your requests will benefit you and the other person.

It also helps to practice some of your "I" statements and your requests beforehand. It may feel silly but the practice will help you when you need to face another person.

Physical Activity Guidelines

photo credit: thornypup