Stress-reducing activities can lower your blood pressure

Monday, November 17, 2008

While reducing stress might not directly lower blood pressure over the long term, using strategies to manage your stress can improve your health in other ways. Mastering stress management techniques can lead to other behavior changes — including those that reduce your blood pressure.

When looking for ways to manage stress, remember that you have many options. For example:
Simplify your schedule. If you consistently feel rushed, take a few minutes to review your calendar and to-do lists. Look for activities that take up your time, but aren't very important to you. Schedule less time for these activities, or eliminate them completely.
Breathe to relax. Making a conscious effort to deepen and slow down your breathing can help you relax.
Exercise. Physical activity is a natural stress buster. Just be sure to get your doctor's OK before starting a new exercise program, especially if you've already been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Exercise is one stress-reducing activity that can actually lower your systolic blood pressure by as much as 5 to 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
Try yoga or meditation. Not only can yoga strengthen your body and help you relax, but it may also lower your systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg or more.
Get plenty of sleep. Being sleep deprived can make your problems seem worse than they really are.
Shift your perspective. When dealing with problems, resist the tendency to complain. Acknowledge your feelings about the situation, and then focus on finding solutions.

The goal is to discover what works for you. Be open-minded and willing to experiment. Choose your strategies, take action and start enjoying the benefits.


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