When it comes to preventing and treating high blood pressure, one often-overlooked strategy is managing stress. If you often find yourself tense and on-edge, try these seven strategies to reduce stress.
- Get enough sleep. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep can negatively affect your mood, mental alertness, energy level, and physical health.
- Learn relaxation techniques. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are powerful stress-busters.
- Strengthen your social network. Connect with others by taking a class, joining an organization, or participating in a support group.
- Hone your time-management skills. The more efficiently you can juggle work and family demands, the lower your stress level.
- Try to resolve stressful situations if you can. Don't let stressful situations fester. Hold family problem-solving sessions and use negotiation skills at home and at work.
- Nurture yourself. Treat yourself to a massage. Truly savor an experience: for example, eat slowly and really focus on the taste and sensations of each bite. Take a walk or a nap, or listen to your favorite music.
- Ask for help. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, friends, and neighbors. If stress and anxiety persist, ask your doctor whether anti-anxiety medications could be helpful.
Add in a healthy lifestyle — maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, regular exercise, and a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthful fats — and high blood pressure could be a thing of the past.
For more information on lifestyle changes to treat high blood pressure and choosing the right medication, buy Controlling Your Blood Pressure, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.