By Dr. Janet Brill
The science is clear: chronic stress is a leading cause of high blood pressure and is highly damaging to the body. Yes, stress will always be a part of daily life. But when excessive stress over an extended period of time is combined with poor coping strategies, it can lead to disease and even death if left unchecked. For example, multiple large-scale studies have shown that individuals who report high levels of mental stress have nearly twice the risk of fatal strokes than those with low stress levels.
Research is just beginning to unlock the complex relationship between chronic stress and the development of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, but the good news is that practicing simple relaxation strategies can calm your physiology, de-stress your mind and quickly reverse your “fight or flight” response to prevent the deleterious effects of chronic stress on your arteries. Read on and learn how easy it is to put a damper on your stress response—a simple and effective first line of defence against the silent killer hypertension.
Try daily relaxation therapy—the antidote to the stress response. Practicing relaxation techniques has been shown to tame the sympathetic nervous system and lead to a reduction in blood pressure. Relaxation lifestyle treatments fall under four general categories:
(1) physical techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation
(2) biofeedback (a method that uses the mind to control involuntary bodily functions such as blood pressure)
(3) autogenic training relaxation techniques (a technique that teaches your body to respond to verbal cues to relax and control breathing)
(4) cognitive/behavioral therapy such as guided imagery, talk therapy, and meditation.
Dr. Janet’s Advice
Try Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a type of exercise derived from Chinese martial arts. The focus is on slow, rhythmic movements, used to create a state of mental clarity and well-being
It’s springtime—time to enjoy this warm, lush and fresh season of rebirth. Take just ten minutes a day to relax, de-stress and enjoy life. This simple task can become a daily treat that will enable you to enjoy a more peaceful existence.
Best of Health,