Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is major surgery, but it’s much less invasive than a traditional type of aortic valve replacement surgery. The good news is that since it’s less invasive, you can look forward to a shorter and easier recovery than if you’d undergone open chest surgery. But recovery is an ongoing process. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take care of yourself, post-surgery. Reducing your stress level is just one of many ways that you can improve your overall health and give yourself a great chance of leading a long, full life. Determine your sources of stress. First, figure out what tends to raise your stress levels. Everyone has a hot button issue or two. Once you have a better handle on what tends to stress you out, you can take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood you’ll get stressed out in the first place. For example, if being late stresses you out: Set your watch ten minutes ahead. Leave 10 minutes early (or more). Ask a loved one to assist you with staying on schedule. Don’t overschedule yourself and try to pack too many activities into a short amount of time. Avoid travelling with people who chronically run late. If low self-esteem is a stressor it’s time to engage in some positive self-talk to boost your confidence. Practice saying some of these positive thoughts to yourself so that you can repeat them when you need them: “I can do this.” “One step at a time.” “I will do the best that I can.” “Everyone makes mistakes, not just me.” “It’s fine to ask for help if I need it.” Embrace emergency stress busters. Sometimes, you’re going to find yourself in a sudden stressful situation that you didn’t anticipate. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests experimenting with some emergency stress relief techniques so that you’ll be ready to use them when you need them. Try these on for size: Take three to five slow deep breaths. Stop and count slowly to ten. Walk away for a few minutes and return only when you feel ready. Pray or meditate for a minute to get your focus back. Find other daily stress relief strategies that help you. What else helps you feel calmer and less anxious? It might be one thing, or it might be a combination of things. Exercise. Exercise is a great way to keep stress at bay while also keeping your body healthy. Head out for a brisk walk, or pick another activity that gets your arms and legs moving—and your stress levels dropping. Prayer or meditation. Some people find carving out some quiet time to reflect is a very effective way of staying centered. Yoga. Yoga could also be lumped into the exercise category, but some people may feel that it’s more like meditation. Maybe it’s both, and that’s fine, as long as it works for you. Favorite hobbies. Knitting or crocheting are meditative for many enthusiasts, who find they can focus and then begin to relax. If you’ve ever wanted to learn, now’s the time. Learning a new activity can improve cognitive function, too. Logistical strategies. Want to avoid the stress—and honking horns—that seems to plague the drivers in the fast lane? Shift over to the slow lane and take a little more time to get to where you’re going. Get enough sleep. Many people experience some difficulty sleeping after undergoing a heart procedure, although the problems usually resolve within a few months. Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining good health, so if you’re not sleeping well, it could be contributing to your stress level. So it may be time to examine your sleep habits to find out if you’re unintentionally sabotaging yourself. Many people who experience a cardiac event or undergo a procedure find themselves experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. By developing some self-help strategies to help you manage and respond well to stress, you might find yourself better able to cope. But if you’re having trouble shaking the anxiety or depression, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.