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We talk about the importance of stress management, as a part of a healthy lifestyle. But did you know that high levels of stress not only affect your happiness but your health too?
In fact, high amounts of stress can lead to high blood pressure. The American Heart Association warns against stress, as it can lead to other poor lifestyle choices. When we're stressed poor diet and alcohol use tend to rise.
Stress releases cortisol into your bloodstream. This causes the secretion of insulin. Overproduction of insulin can block your body from losing weight. It can also stop your body using the food you’re consuming effectively. Increased body weight can also cause high blood pressure and a world of other heart-related health issues.
So there is more than one reason as to why you need to reign in the stress. Take a look at how you can manage your stress and remove stressful factors in your everyday life.
How Can You Control Stress?
Stress can originate from many different areas in our lives. Perhaps it’s a stressful time at work, or you’re dealing with a loved one who is very unwell. Whatever the stress may be, it’s important to try to reduce your time spent dealing with that stressor.
If that’s not possible, then think about ways to reduce your stress at the moment, and manage your thoughts and how you react to stressful situations. Remember that the less stress you feel, the better you’re going to feel mental, and the less likely you’ll be at risk for high blood pressure.
We’re not sure how many health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, obesity can be avoided by simply getting exercise. So we’ll keep telling you the cure-all is exercise until it’s not. Simply stated, humans were made to move, to be physically active.
If you have a sedentary job, it is now your job to increase your activity. If that’s difficult for you, try doing so incrementally, as we described in another blog post here.
Say No and Give Yourself the Gift of Time
Sometimes it difficult for us to say no to people. We’re afraid of letting them down. But if you’re already feeling overstretched, not getting enough sleep, not enough time to eat, then the best thing for you do is to tell someone no.
If that’s hard for you and gives you even more stress thinking about that conversation, then start with a “not now, another time.”
A lot of people feel stressed by something called “time famine,” or the idea that we do not have enough time to do it all. Remember that old adage that says you have to pick between social life, enough sleep, and good grades in college? Expand those choices to social life, sleep, eating well, getting enough exercise, your relationship, your career, your kids, and your pets. That’s a lot to choose from and can cause stress. Your high blood pressure may have just spiked through the roof thinking of all the things you need to do on a daily basis.
Try not to do it all every day. Pick 2 or 3 of the highest priority things. Perhaps on Mondays, your highest priority is family nutrition and work. Exceed at those, and don’t even worry about the rest because the time will come around when social life is your number one priority. It’s okay not to be the best at everything all the time.
We’ve talked about self-care before, but we think it’s important to talk about again. Putting yourself first sometimes is important to your mental health. If you feel relaxed and happy because you spent the entire weekend cleaning the house and meal prepping delicious and healthy meals, do that. Being relaxed will help you fight off unwanted stress and can lead to a healthier heart.
If you’re taking care of yourself by getting into yoga once a week, then your stress can decrease enough to get you out of the high blood pressure risk zone. Remember to do what makes you feel happy and relaxed, not what someone else tells you will make you feel less stressed. Self-care and stress are a personal journey.
Stress can come at you fast. Take a moment to breathe when you feel it coming on. This moment you take for yourself can help you re-center. Remember that stress is a negative thing that not only affects your mental health but your overall well-being.
High blood pressure is caused by weight, diet, lack of exercise, and stress. If the easiest thing you can change is your stress levels, then we recommend it heartily! Remember to check out the American Heart Association for more helpful tips on how to take care of your heart this American Heart Month.
Share will us all the ways you reduce the stress in your life.