High Blood Pressure Can Be Caused by Chronic Stress: Here’s How to Lower It
Chronic stress, according to researchers, can raise your risk of cardiac problems like high blood pressure.
Going to therapy sessions, visiting with friends, and exercising, according to experts, are all effective ways to relieve stress and anxiety.
They go on to say that it’s preferable to focus on one source of stress at a time.
Chronic stress is detrimental to your heart’s health.
This is true for persons of all ages, including those without any pre-existing problems such as high blood pressure (hypertension).
According to a new study released by the American Heart Association, this is the case.
Researchers looked examined stress levels in 412 persons (aged 48 to 87) without hypertension over a 13-year period (2005-2018).
Researchers measured the hormones cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are produced in the body to respond to stress.
The doubling of cortisol levels alone — not norepinephrine, epinephrine, or dopamine — was linked to a 90% increased risk of cardiovascular events.
The stress hormone cortisol is responsible for your reactions to danger or threat. Cortisol levels should return to normal once the problem is passed. This is what tells your body and brain that everything is fine.
Norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine all work together to manage involuntary physiological functions including heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration by regulating the autonomic nervous system.
This involuntary ebb and flow are disrupted by chronic stress. Because the threat never feels over, cortisol may not be able to return to normal levels.
As a result, heart health may be jeopardized without a person’s knowledge.
Is stress relief even possible at this time?
Isn’t it evident that the best way to deal with stress is to lessen it?
According to the experts, yes and no.
Therese Rosenblatt, Ph.D., author of “How Are You: Connection in a Virtual Age – A Therapist, a Pandemic, and Stories about Coping with Life,” said, “Of course, we know all those stock, physically oriented methods of reducing stress management, like breathing techniques, minding your eating habits, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising.”
“All of these habits are beneficial, but it can be difficult to even commence those behaviors when you are in the grip of that intense, gnawing worry that makes life miserable,” she told Healthline.
Stress reduction, according to Akua K. Boateng, Ph.D., a certified psychotherapist, is all about reducing your body’s need to cope with pressures beyond its capabilities.
“There will always be stressors in the world,” Boateng told Healthline. “However, when we talk about stress reduction, it comes down to attempting to not personalize all of the stressors at the same time.”
The important line, she says, is to take stressors in small doses and to recognize when you need to stop processing others.
Tips for coping with stress from Boateng:
Create boundaries for stress intake. Reduce the need to have the house completely clean, do all of your jobs on schedule, or redecorate your home during this time if you are under additional psychological stress due to work, the COVID-19 pandemic, or Christmas festivities.
Create supportive spaces ahead of time. Things like counseling, a weekly check-in with a friend, and writing can help you control and mentally “de-steam” the energy held in a stressful situation. To avoid a mental backlog, give yourself these spaces regularly.
Deal with one stressor at a time. When you try to deal with several stressors at once, your body starts to break down. This is unavoidable at times. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. Process one issue first and then take some time to recover before moving on to the next.
Don’t demand stress reduction
“There is no better way to manage stress than to actively do something about it,” Rosenblatt added.
Experts warn, however, that attempting to alleviate stress can become counterproductive at some point.
“Stress reduction should reduce, not add to, the energy within the body,” Boateng stated. “A tiny amount of stress can be good at times (for example, talking in therapy), but you should feel better overall.”
Signs that stress reduction is causing more harm than good, according to Boateng:
Stress management becomes a chore with strict standards.
There are checkpoints along the way to see how far you’ve come.
You blame or feel guilty about yourself.
“You can’t worry and anxiety away,” Rosenblatt explained.
“Keep in mind that it originated someplace. That somewhere may be a threat from the outside, such as COVID-19, in which case at least some of the anxiety is justified,” she added.
Due to the current situation, Rosenblatt advises staying adaptable when coping with stress.
She stated, “Decisions we make today, including our personal, social, and work routines, may have to change tomorrow.” “We must accept the things we can’t change and focus our efforts on the ones we can. We will be better prepared if we consider that even the near future is unpredictable.”
“Or it could originate from an internal, more personal or idiosyncratic source, in which case the stress is genuine to you and you must deal with it,” Rosenblatt explained. “Knowing what you’re up against is far more effective than battling it.”
She suggested, “Remember that our thoughts and bodies were created to send us stress signals when we need to pay attention to a real or perceived threat.” “Once you admit that you are stressed and try to figure out what it is about it that is bothering you, you may be able to form a strategy, either to take action or simply to take it easy on yourself.”