Over the years, we put a great deal of stress on our heart and blood vessels. We work hard, we enjoy life and we tell ourselves that there will be time for exercise, healthy eating and stress management later. One of the first warning signs that it’s time to start making those lifestyle changes is hearing that you have high blood pressure. Although it is a common diagnosis in the lower mainland of B.C., it should not be taken lightly as hypertension can lead to heart failure, stroke and aneurysms. It is for these reasons why most of us jump on the opportunity to take blood pressure medication but there are actually other ways to treat hypertension without the risk of side effects, such as: dizziness, leg cramps, stomach pains, and insomnia.
Take a deep breathe. Slow, deep belly breathing and meditative practices can help lower your blood pressure. Even 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night can help reduce tension.
Let yourself relax. You deserve it! Find out how you like to relax, which in turn will lower your stress levels. This may be yoga or tai chi, massage or acupuncture, reading or going for a walk.
Get out into nature. By unplugging from our demanding and overstimulating world and getting back in touch with nature, this can lower our blood pressure.
Listen to calming music. It has been scientifically proven that with the right tunes, you can lower your stress hormones. Experiment listening to classical, instrumental, ambient or any lower-tempo songs.
Pay attention to the foods you eat. We’ve all heard it before to lower our salt intake to reduce stress on our heart. But what about the foods that actually help lower our blood pressure? Garlic, onions, celery, green leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, berries, and dark chocolate are beneficial for dealing with hypertension.
Switch to decaf. Drinking less coffee and caffeinated beverages can help bring down our blood pressure. Try replacing coffee this fall with more herbal teas, such as: ginger, peppermint, or hibiscus.
Get your body moving. Choose an activity that you enjoy and slowly increase the frequency and intensity. Blood pressure decreases with resistance exercises (i.e. weight training) and it remains lower for the rest of the day with aerobic exercises (i.e. swimming, biking, or brisk walking).
If you are already on medication for lowering your blood pressure, that doesn’t mean you are on it for life. Start with one of these tricks and see how your body responds to stress. Hypertension is one of the most naturally treatable conditions!