Doctors, holistic health practitioners, and even most patients know that if you’re able to control the stress in your life, you have a better chance of enjoying healthy blood pressure levels. To help you keed your stress and blood pressure under control, use these nine stress-reducing techniques:
- Massage: This form of bodywork helps people decrease their heart rate and blood pressure levels and reduce the stress that can lead to cardiovascular problems and disease.
- Meditation: Simple meditation can offset the chronic release of cortisol. You can do a simple meditation by focusing on a phrase that is meaningful to you, such as “The Lord is my shepherd,” or “Hail Mary, full of grace.” Just close your eyes and say your phrase silently as you exhale. When stray thoughts come into your mind, don’t try to force them out. Gently, and without straining, bring your focus back to your phrase. Use this technique for 10–15 minutes, once or twice daily, or as needed.
- Prayer: Spiritual practices lower stress, as well as blood pressure levels—no doubt about it. In a conference at Harvard Medical School several years ago, research was cited showing that people who attend church frequently, or pray regularly, have lower rates of heart disease, hypertension, and suicide. Those who prayed even lived longer than those who did not.
- Exercise: Exercise provides enormous mental/emotional benefits and can improve your state of mind. It doesn’t take much to get results—some regular walking can beat back depression and anxiety. If you’re prone to stress, get moving!
- Get proper rest: The age-old doctor’s recommendation goes straight to the heart of the issue. When you become fatigued, it’s easy to become stressed. Rest includes not only your daily sleep, but adequate relaxation and vacations. I remember years ago reading a study that showed people who took more vacations lived longer.
- Learn to say “No”: Always accommodating others is a wonderful trait; however, we can easily become overwhelmed and fatigued in the process. Say “no” when confronted by a request you think will probably be too stressful or time-consuming. You can’t always please everybody. Moreover, no one will respect you unless you respect yourself and your personal time.
- Get a pet: Research confirms what you’ve probably known all along: Animals—especially those with which you’ve had a long-term relationship—can be good for your health! The survival rate of people who suffer a heart attack has been found to be five times greater among those who leave the hospital and go home to a loving pet than those who go home to an empty house or a judgmental spouse!
- Laughter: Children laugh an average of 400 times a day; adults, only 15. Somewhere on the way to adulthood, we lost the ability to laugh 385 times a day! Up your laughter quotient with comedy videos or playing with your grandkids. In one study that lasted more than a year, cardiac patients who watched a comedy show on a daily basis had significantly lower stress hormone levels and healthier blood pressure levels, and they needed less medication.
- Play: Get back in touch with the playful part of yourself by observing children and seeing what they do. Even better, play with a child and let him or her set the tone. Try swinging on a swing, blowing bubbles, finger painting, or playing catch.
Perhaps you have stress-relieving strategies and ideas of your own? If so, please share them here. Your idea could likely help someone else.
For more great stress-reducing tips, visit www.drsinatra.com.