The medical profession is finally beginning to wake up to what logic and intuition has always told us: stress is a major factor in high blood pressure. Until recently stress was considered only a contributing factor and not in itself a primary cause of hypertension. It therefore followed that relaxation and stress relief would have only a negligible and/or temporary effect on blood pressure.
But fresh research is now beginning to reveal the obvious: high stress levels are linked to high blood pressure. As part of the natural human reaction for fight or flight under pressure, stress causes Blood balance hormone levels in the body to rise. These changes, if they occur chronically, can easily become a major factor or even the primary cause of high blood pressure.
Even in cases of secondary hypertension, whereby high blood pressure is caused by some organic cause, stress can be a major aggravator of the condition.
So if high levels of stress are a major factor in high blood pressure, it stands to reason that reducing stress can lower blood pressure. This approach is quick, effective, and does not require medication or costly doctor’s visits.
Many high blood pressure sufferers are looking for easy ways to manage their blood pressure at home, without drugs. The first step in lowering your blood pressure should always begin with a few simple lifestyle changes, including learning stress management techniques. These techniques, together with your doctor’s advice, can help lower your blood pressure quickly and easily.
Here are a few easy ways to start reducing stress:
- Get more sleep. The human body needs at least eight hours of sleep per night. This gives both the mind and body a chance to rest, recuperate and recharge. Without this opportunity, you will quickly become tired, cranky, and stressed. Lack of sleep can lead to elevated stress levels and elevated blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly Regular exercise will help lower your blood pressure, while adding energy and vitality to your daily life. Exercise is also a great stress reliever, allowing you to work off tension while you move your body. Losing weight may be an added benefit of exercising frequently and this can further reduce blood pressure.
- Eat a balanced diet. Eating nutritious and whole foods will not only help lower your blood pressure, but your stress levels as well. A diet rich in vitamins and nutrients, with plenty of whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables, is crucial to good health. Processed foods, for example, often contain unnatural amounts of salt, which upsets the normal balance of sodium, magnesium and potassium in the body, raising blood pressure. You can counteract this by eating whole foods with a natural balance of minerals and/or by taking a modest magnesium supplement. The extra benefit is that magnesium and calcium also help calm the nerves and reduce stress.
- Take time for yourself every day. Making sure you get down time is a great way to lower your stress levels. Don’t bring work home with you. Take time to relax, spend time with your family, play a game, read a book, or just unwind. This time is essential to your well-being.
- Express your feelings. It is important to have a partner or close friend to vent to. Keeping your feelings bottled up inside is dangerous and unhealthy. Sharing your problems with someone is a great and positive way to reduce stress and lower blood pressure as well.
- Slow breathing. You will often hear this described as “deep breathing” but slow breathing is a much more helpful way to think of it. Slow breathing and relaxation can be an easy way to lower your stress. Taking just a few minutes every day to relax and unwind to some gentle music while breathing slowly and deeply may be just the ticket to dropping those numbers at your next doctor’s visit.