Hypertension and stress are facts of nature. Nature intended stress to be a short-term experience to set our bodies up to deal with potential or actual danger when it causes the high blood pressure needed to fight or flee. Modern working and lifestyles, however, are often continuously stressful and can lead to persistently elevated blood pressure levels. Our bodies do not react well to these conditions.
The relationship between stress and high blood pressure:
The human body responds to physical or mental stress by releasing a surge of hormones including adrenalin, in preparation for a “fight or flight” response. These hormones constrict the walls of blood vessels, the result is a faster heart rate and elevated blood pressure.
Once the cause of stress is resolved, heart rate and blood pressure return to normal.
Although short-term stress alone might not cause chronic hypertension, some stress-related lifestyle behaviours caused by our continuously stressful modern working and lifestyles do lead to persistently high blood pressure. For example, stress often leads to:
- overeating, especially unhealthy foods;
- being overweight;
- increased alcohol consumption;
- overuse of caffeine; and
- poor sleep habits.
Each of which can contribute to hypertension.
Controlling high blood pressure is a lifelong activity simply because our BP changes almost from minute to minute and is influenced by so many factors. Hypertension can progress as we get older simply as part of the ageing process. Treatments that worked earlier in life may need to be adjusted over time to maintain our readings within normal levels.
Regardless of whether stress is a direct or indirect contributor to our hypertension, stress reduction techniques can help lower high blood pressure.
Stress is a product of our modern working and lifestyles. If we are to successfully manage our blood pressure within normal levels, we must address the cause or causes of our anxiety, tension and pressure whether they be mental, physical or both.
10 Tips to reduce stress:
- Allow sufficient time for getting too and from work; and, if your work involves travel, plan your journey and build in rest breaks;
- Organise your work schedule to allow adequate time to complete the task in hand;
- Allow some time for relaxation during work breaks;
- Focus on finding solutions to problems;
- Avoid negativity in life and adopt a positive attitude;
- Spend quality time with your family and friends;
- Exercise regularly;
- Take up a hobby – relaxation can be active as well as passive;
- Improve your diet; and
- Get plenty of quality sleep.
[important][/important]Adopting these ten tips will reduce your stress levels both at work and in your lifestyle. When you have resolved the causes of your stress, your high blood pressure should return to normal levels naturally.