More than 33 per cent of adult Australians have high blood pressure and that’s a problem because it is a serious condition with lots of consequences. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. It is also bad news for your eyes, kidneys and (in men) erectile function. You don’t want to leave high blood pressure unattended but there is plenty you can do to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range before you need turn to medication.
Diet is an obvious place to start but we won’t go into detail on that here. Cut down on salt, eat more fruit and vegetables, and more wholegrains and you are off to a good start. What you can add to this are some lifestyle and mind strategies that are just as powerful.
Your mind has a direct effect on your body and vice versa. Your mind and body are engaged in a continual feedback loop so it is no surprise that your emotions and mental approach have a distinct impact on blood pressure.
A positive outlook
Having a positive outlook may lower blood pressure, especially in older adults. Positive emotions like happiness, optimism, and love all keep the nervous system in balance and reduce stress levels which might be why they also reduce blood pressure. By contrast of course, negative emotions can give blood pressure a boost.
Do you eat quickly? Do you often get upset if you have to wait? Do you often feel pressured? Do you often feel pressured at the end of the day? People who say “yes” to those questions tend to be two to three times more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who say “no”. So just finding a more patient outlook could lower your blood pressure.
If you are holding anger and hostility within you, let them go, they are pushing your blood pressure up. This has been shown in a range of studies and by contrast if you can let your anger go and practice forgiveness in the process you will actually lower your blood pressure.
Lifestyle choices can also significantly influence your blood pressure.
Yes, sleep is an activity because while you are asleep your body is engaging in many regenerative processes. Many health problems arise from lack of sleep and high blood pressure is one of them. Insomniacs who sleep fewer than five hours a night are five times more likely to suffer hypertension than people who sleep well. Making sure that you get plenty of sleep is critical to keeping blood pressure in a healthy range.
The relaxing nature of meditation makes it an obvious candidate for lowering blood pressure and research shows that it can do that, even in children. For instance, one year of Transcendental Meditation allowed people with high blood pressure to lower their medication use and also lower their systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
High blood pressure is serious so never try to treat it on your own but if you act now you can prevent it taking hold.