Stress is a formidable enemy to someone who is trying to bring down his or her blood pressure. It’s something almost everyone encounters on a daily basis, and if you don’t know the best way to manage it, it can have a dire impact on your health.
How Does Stress Affect Blood Pressure?
Whenever you walk into your doctor’s office, if you’re nervous about the visit, it can cause you to have a high blood pressure reading. Stress can contribute in a physical and mental way. Exercise itself takes a temporary toll on your body (although it has beneficial results), and during the time you’re moving your body, your blood pressure will rise to some degree.
The same thing happens when you suffer from emotional stress. This is your mental reaction to situations that cause you to become angry or sad, for example. Your body has a physical reaction to that stress in the form of a release of hormones designed to help you deal with it. The hormones help you in some ways, but they also increase blood pressure.
When faced with stress, your blood vessels restrict and your heartbeat quickens. Those two issues combined result in more pressure against your arteries, and a high blood pressure reading. Stress also contributes to more bad lifestyle choices.
Many people choose to drink alcohol, eat comfort (salty/sugary) foods, or smoke whenever they’re stressed. As you’ve learned already, these often point to hypertension. Sometimes stress shows up physically in ways other than blood pressure readings. You might notice a sore jaw in the morning – stressed out men and women often grind their teeth or clench their jaw in their sleep.
Headaches are common for stressed out individuals. They can range from mild and constant to sudden spikes that mimic a migraine headache. Exhaustion is a physical sign of too much stress. Even if you got a nice 8 hours of sleep, when you’re on stress overload, you’re likely to feel tired and cranky throughout the day anyway.
Weight changes mark an increase in stress. You might be the type of person who can’t eat when they’re stressed, so the pounds fall off in an unhealthy manner. Or stress may cause you to turn to comfort food and pile on the pounds.
Mentally, you’re going to sometimes fall into a slight or severe depression when you’re stressed. You might cry more often, talk in a negative manner, or even notice that you forget things easily. Because of the havoc stress can wreak on your physical and mental state, it’s important that you reduce and handle it on a daily basis.
Best Ways to Reduce Stress
It’s almost impossible to completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can learn how to reduce it and manage whatever you can’t avoid. And by implementing some of these tips, you may even see a reduction in your blood pressure fairly soon. Let’s start with reducing it where we can.
The first thing that stresses many people out is time management. You might be spending your days rushing around from work to after school activities – feeling like you never have a spare minute. It’s time to par down your to-do list each day. Be organized with your time, creating a schedule that flows well and isn’t overwhelming to you. If it means you have to cut out some activities, then do it for your health. And this includes having the strength to say “no” to requests for your time.
And in order to handle the stress better that you do encounter, get a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation itself can cause you to be stressed, but top that issue with more problems throughout the day and you’ll snap at the smallest thing.
We’ve already mentioned aerobic exercise, but don’t forget about calming, stress relief exercises like yoga. While it does help you strengthen your core and feel stronger, it’s also a great stress buster because it relaxes your body and mind simultaneously. One thing you’ll learn when researching stress relief is that when you’re stressed, without knowing it, you probably hold your breath or take shallow breaths that you normally don’t do. Deep breathing techniques go a long way in calming you down during stressful times. They’re not obvious – you can implement deep breathing anywhere at any time and no one has to know.
One thing you may not be aware of is how your diet affects your stress levels. When you take in a high sugar food, you might have a spike of energy to handle stress and timelines, but then the crash you feel when your body processes it will leave you tired. Just by adhering to some of the food changes mentioned here previously, you should start to feel better throughout the day. Those changes will enable you to handle stress better because you’ll physically feel good.
Manage stress by finding a method that helps calm you down when things go awry or feel out of control. There are many methods – from meditation to visualization to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP helps you interrupt bad habits, like reacting negatively to stress, and learn new behaviors. There are many ways you can learn how to apply NLP, including audio, video and text-based courses.
The best way to handle stress is to know what your triggers are. You may not consciously be aware that an event, person or action stresses you out until later when you reflect on your day. Once you identify it, work on finding a way to change it or manage it better with a new and improved reaction to it. By learning how to handle stress, you should see a steady decline in your blood pressure statistics.
We're Here for You
Yes, there’s a lot to learn about living with high blood pressure. Getting in control might take some time. It’s going to mean making some changes in your life, but you can start with small changes, and you don’t have to make them all at once. Try to stay positive and work with your doctor to find the right combination of treatments. And you don’t have to do it alone.
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