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What Is the Relationship Between Stress And Blood Pressure?
Some stress can be good but when stress is high, or lasts for a long time, it may affect how well your heart works. The everyday stress of modern life and work can definitely increase your blood pressure levels by accelerating your heart rate. When you’re in stressful situation, your body produces an increase in hormones. These hormones temporarily raises your blood pressure by making your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to constrict. But the human body uses this brief, non-permanent increase in blood pressure rather regularly and normally to get you ready to react to “threats.” This is commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response. However, it’s not necessarily correct to claim that everyday stress causes permanently high blood pressure (hypertension). Stress can cause temporary high blood pressure level, but once the source of your stress is removed and you are able to relax, your blood pressure will return to normal.
There is no evidence, according to research, that frequent, brief rises in blood pressure harm your internal organs or blood vessels permanently. Therefore, engaging in strenuous daily sports or working in a stressful atmosphere won’t result in high blood pressure over the long run.
Everything from watching sports on television to hearing a baby cry has been shown to raise blood pressure. However, none of these things by itself will result in chronic high blood pressure or hypertension. The only time there is any risk is when your body is subjected to continuously elevated blood pressure levels over extended periods of time.
Long-term or chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of primary hypertension, according to research. However, there are many other factors that must also be taken into account, including obesity, exercise, smoking, and psychological concerns like depression and anxiety levels. This all becomes a cycle when you consider that excess stress itself leads to many of the other contributing factor of hypertension. Highly stressed people often overeat, take little exercise and smoke more.
Long Term Stress Can Cause High Blood Pressure
Prolonged periods of regular stress can cause high blood pressure through the repeated raising of blood pressure levels as well as by stimulation of the nervous system to produce large amounts of vasoconstricting (artery tightening) hormones that increase blood pressure. Factors affecting blood pressure through long term stress include job strain, race, social environment, and emotional distress.
When one or more risk factors for high blood pressure are coupled together with other stress producing factors, the effect on blood pressure is multiplied. Overall, studies show that short term stress does not directly cause high blood pressure, but can have an effect on its development. Also, some of the side effects of stress, like overeating and lack of exercise can contribute to a person developing high blood pressure.
Which ever way you look at it, long term or chronic stress is not good for the human body and should be avoided and controlled wherever possible.
The only true way of ascertaining whether you have high blood pressure or not is by having it checked or monitored regularly using a home blood pressure monitor and tracking it with a blood pressure log. This is a painless procedure, and every adult should have their blood pressure checked regularly since your blood pressure can change over time. This way you are more likely to catch a change before it becomes dangerous. Ask your health care provider how often you need to check it.
How Can You Cope With Chronic Stress?
You can begin to take practical steps to help you cope with stress once you’ve identified the aspects of your life that are causing you stress. While some of these stress-reduction methods can be learned on your own, others might require the assistance of a qualified therapist.
Here are some tips to reduce (chronic) stress:
- Eat and drink sensibly. Abusing alcohol and food may seem to reduce stress, but it actually adds to it.
- Assert yourself. You do not have to meet others’ expectations or demands. It’s OK to say “no.” Remember, being assertive allows you to stand up for your rights and beliefs while respecting those of others.
- Stop smoking. Aside from the obvious health risks of cigarettes, nicotine acts as a stimulant and brings on more stress symptoms.
- Exercise regularly. Choose non-competitive exercise and set reasonable goals. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins (natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude.)
- Relax every day. Choose from a variety of different techniques like breathing slowly and deeply, have a massage, soak in a warm bath, watch a funny video or meditate.
- Take responsibility. Control what you can and leave behind what you cannot control.
- Reduce causes of stress. Many people find life is filled with too many demands and too little time. For the most part, these demands are ones we have chosen. Effective time-management skills involve asking for help when appropriate, setting priorities, pacing yourself and taking time out for yourself.
- Examine your values and live by them. The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better you will feel, no matter how busy your life is.
- Set realistic goals and expectations. It’s OK, and healthy, to realize you cannot be 100% successful at everything all at once.
- Sell yourself to yourself. When you are feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of what you do well. Have a healthy sense of self-esteem.
- Get enough rest. Even with proper diet and exercise, you can’t fight stress effectively without rest. You need time to recover from exercise and stressful events. The time you spend resting should be long enough to relax your mind as well as your body.