Stress has been considered a contributing cause of hypertension for a long time. It’s true that people who find themselves in stressful situations may experience a short-term rise in their blood pressure levels, but can it also have long-term effects?
How are stress and blood pressure linked?
Every time a person finds themselves in a stressful situation, the body releases a series of stress hormones that stimulate the heart to beat faster. Since accelerated heart beats have been linked to a rise in blood pressure due to a narrowing of the arteries that transport blood, stress indirectly leads to (temporary) hypertension. It is not yet clear how stress affects blood pressure in the long term, but we do know that stress can lead to an sudden spike in blood pressure.
Stress can further influence blood pressure indirectly — if you turn to smoking, alcohol, or binge eating to calm your nerves, these unhealthy coping mechanisms will cause your blood pressure to rise.
Managing stress effectively
Stress is a condition that comes and goes, but for some people, it’s a more permanent problem. While it’s true that stress causes a temporary spike in blood pressure, being stressed all the time will prevent blood pressure from lowering, thus exposing you to the risk of hypertension for a prolonged period of time. There are several forms of alternative treatment which are believed to be efficient in helping with stressful periods by helping the body and the brain relax.
Yoga is a common form of meditation that has proven to be a successful tool in managing stress that could lead to hypertension. However, since yoga involves relaxing through the uses of multiple positions, it is not recommended for everyone. For example, women who are pregnant, have osteoporosis, or those who have sciatica or glaucoma should talk to their doctors before taking on any yoga techniques that could lead to injury.
Hypnosis is a controversial form of therapy that’s also used to combat the negative effects of stress. Also known as hypnotherapy, hypnosis looks to help you achieve a state of relaxation that you wouldn’t normally get while performing other soothing activities.
For instance, people believe that by doing something they enjoy, such as watching their favorite TV series, they will unwind and relieve themselves from stress. However, the mind continues to engage in thoughts that could case stress.
Since there are no negative effects to trying out hypnosis, a lot of people to who feel stressed decide to try it out. The only significant drawback worth mentioning is the fact that not everyone can enter a state of hypnosis. This usually happens because of a barrier set by a person’s own beliefs regarding the efficiency of hypnosis. Because of that, some people have a harder time into achieving that state of relaxation which leads to the trance state characteristic of hypnosis.
The tricky thing about meditation is that it takes a lot of practice for these sessions to be efficient. People often set unrealistic expectations, particularly in their first sessions of meditation, which can cause more stress and anxiety then needed.
Beginners should start with short meditation sessions, of about 15 minutes each. Whenever comfortable, they can gradually increase their meditation period with 10 minutes every time they feel they are ready to take it to the next level.
A lot of people experience stress as a short-term issue that goes away when the specific root of the problem has passed. Stress can be induced by things such as nervousness for a promotion at the workplace, couple arguments, deadlines, financial difficulties, and more.
People who find themselves in such a situation are more likely to find relief through psychotherapy. During these sessions, the therapist and the patient will establish the cause for constant stress and anxiety, and work their way together towards figuring out what is the best approach to deal with it.
The disadvantage of therapy is that it can take a long time, as during these sessions, people discover a lot about themselves, learn to connect the mental and emotional dots that could help them figure out what’s causing this state.
The long-term effects of stress on your blood pressure aren’t yet fully clear, but it’s safe to assume that if you live under constant mental and emotional pressure, your blood pressure will also be elevated during this entire time. Thankfully, there are many ways to learn how to cope with stress and avoid it taking a toll on your health.