When the blood flows through the vessels, it exerts pressure on the walls of the vessels, which is termed as blood pressure or BP. However, blood pressure is not consistent throughout the body. It varies in different body parts according to the heart’s contraction phases and other conditions like stress, exercise, and health. Although there are various risk factors for high blood pressure, the most common factor worldwide is stress. Over the years, many research types have shown the connection between long-term high blood pressure and stress that also affects your overall health (1).
Whether you are experiencing minor or major stressors, your body will show some physical signs and symptoms. However, in most cases, high blood pressure is an overt condition with no physical symptoms that can catch anyone’s eye. Hence high blood pressure or hypertension is termed a silent killer that can significantly impact your overall health (2).
Let us learn in detail how stress can affect your body.
How does the body react to stress?
Stress denotes specific changes in the environment that makes your body adjust and react differently as a response. Your body reacts to such changes with emotional, mental, and physical responses. However, you are bound to experience various stressful situations in your life, and it is only normal. Some stresses can be good, challenging you to keep you motivated throughout your life. But, most of the stresses are detrimental to your health. This can make you susceptible to chronic diseases that can even lead to death.
The human body has been designed naturally for experiencing and reacting to stresses. Positive stress like getting a promotion at the workplace will improve your overall mood. However, when you are experiencing negative stresses every day, you are actually facing distressful challenges continuously without any relaxation or relief periods in-between. Therefore, stress-related tension starts building up that makes you feel overworked.
Regular distress leads to physical complications such as sleep disorders, chest pain, high blood pressure, stomach diseases, and headaches. Studies have stated that uncontrolled stress can even increase the severity of the diseases.
How does your lifestyle choices play a role in all of this?
While stressors are unavoidable stimuli, your lifestyle choices determine the extent to which such stressors can affect you. For example, using drugs, tobacco, and alcohol can worsen the effect that stress has on your body. Most individuals think that substance abuse will help them in coping and relieving the stress. However, instead of relaxing your body, it can further keep your body in a more stressed state that can cause you more problems.
Here are some statistics that would further help you understand,
- People suffering from untreated chronic stress have 50% increased chances of experiencing emotional disorders throughout their life.
- OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has declared that stress is a workplace hazard. The American corporate industry invests over $300 billion every year to combat stress experienced among employees.
- Some of the common conditions caused by stress include anxiety, depression, arthritis, asthma, skin diseases, diabetes, heart diseases, and more among young adults.
- 43% of adults worldwide are diagnosed with adverse health complications that directly or indirectly result from stress. Almost 90% of doctor visits in developing countries are for stress-induced complaints and ailments.
How can you reduce stress-induced high blood pressure?
By now, you know that your stress level has a dramatic effect on your blood pressure levels. Although there is no compact evidence that proves that reducing stress levels can lower your blood pressure, some studies have stated that it might help to some extent. Nonetheless, adopting specific strategies that can reduce your stress level helps in improving your overall health in different ways that can ultimately reduce your blood pressure.
Some of the common and simple methods of reducing stress and managing your blood pressure.
Change your perspective
While dealing with stressful situations, try to acknowledge your feelings. This would help you evaluate the situation and focus all your attention on finding solutions that would make you feel better.
Maintain sleep hygiene
Sleeping too much or too little can result in both stress and high blood pressure. Therefore, you should ensure that you are getting quality and adequate sleep. Maintaining a healthy sleep cycle will help control hormones that regulate metabolic rate and stress levels, which are primary risk factors of hypertension.
Some people do not like consuming scores of medication throughout their life to keep their blood pressure level under control. Meditation and yoga help in strengthening your body as well as relaxing your mind. Studies have proven that doing meditation and yoga can reduce systolic blood pressure by a minimum of 5 mmHg.
Besides this, people can also engage in other physical activities that work as natural stressbusters. However, it would be best to ask a professional healthcare provider before starting with an exercise routine to prevent any complications that might arise from it.
Although elevated blood pressure is a severe condition that can lead to several other diseases, there are still various ways to control it. Ensure that you are taking proper care of yourself to refrain from experiencing stressful situations.
Madelline completed her studies in community healthcare education. Apart from being a freelance writer, she also volunteers at the local non-profit organisations that help people suffering from mental disorders like depression and anxiety.