The Link Between Stress and High Blood Pressure

Stress management is necessary to help you deal with work, family, and social demands of a busy life. When you keep stress at bay, or at least learn to co-exist with it, it has less power over your health.

Management doesn’t mean eating stress away or drinking alcohol to numb the discomfort. These behaviors contribute to health problems, including high blood pressure. In fact, a stressful situation can cause your blood pressure to rise – especially in the short term.

But stress may also contribute to long-term high blood pressure. Though research isn’t definitive, it can’t hurt to manage your stress healthfully, and the team at South Plains Rural Health, with locations in Levelland, Lamesa, and Big Spring, Texas, is available to help. Read on to learn how stress and high blood pressure are connected and what you can do to manage both.

Hormonal effects

When you face stress – whether that’s a late car payment or a stranger in a dark alley – your body produces a surge of hormones that temporarily increase your blood pressure. They make your heart beat faster and your blood vessels shrink.

A series of these stressful events leads to repeated cases of spikes in your blood pressure. If you have lots of work triggers, family or relationship stress, or financial problems, you’re bombarded with stressful situations that keep your body continually on guard. Your blood pressure becomes mildly elevated, always.

Behavioral triggers

Although a direct cause and effect between stress and high blood pressure have yet to be definitively proven, stress does cause unhealthy behaviors, including:

Stress can also make you sedentary since you feel you’re just too agitated or busy to exercise.

These behaviors are linked to higher blood pressure.

Emotional toll

Stress can also contribute to unpleasant emotional or mental sensations. When you’re under stress, you’re more prone to anxiety, depression, and social isolation. Though a direct link between these conditions and high blood pressure hasn’t been proven, it makes sense that they only contribute to high stress and can make it so that you forget medications or just don’t put a priority on your health.

Increases in blood pressure related to stress can be dramatic. But when your stress goes away, your blood pressure returns to normal. However, even frequent, temporary spikes in blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys in a way similar to long-term high blood pressure.

Manage stress

Stress management is critical and although you sometimes may feel stressed by trying to reduce stress, it’s important to develop healthy habits that support healthy blood pressure.

Exercising three to five times per week for 30 minutes can reduce stress. Find an activity you love, such as walking in nature, playing tennis, dancing, or hitting the golf course. Plus, exercise helps you manage your weight – and being a healthy weight supports healthy blood pressure levels.

Yoga and breathing techniques are also helpful in relieving stress. Use an app or head to a studio for social time and relaxation. We can recommend options.

Pair down your schedule. If you’re overwhelmed, ask yourself where you can cut back or delegate.

Socialize. Oftentimes, having a trusted person you can talk to helps. We offer counseling here at South Plains Rural Health, too.

If you’re feeling stressed, know if it has reached health ramifications. Help your blood pressure ease with techniques that reduce your load and minimize your reactions. At South Plains Rural Health, we’re available for regular hypertension management. Call our office, or schedule online to get your health on track. 

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