For most people in today’s world, stress isn’t unique. It may begin with a late start to your morning, and traffic can add to your stress as you play beat the clock. As other annoyances build throughout your day, one more inconvenience, or one more person demanding your time, you feel as if you could explode.
Maybe your stress is more constant, an unrelenting situation in your life like your job, caring for an aging parent or spouse, or a financial situation that has you in turmoil. Whether your stress is the everyday variety, or stress caused by a situation you must endure, the constant state of emotional strain is affecting you physically.
While a direct connection between stress and hypertension has yet to be proven, there’s no doubt that stress has an impact on your blood pressure. There are many ways that stress can, and does, lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. In addition to gnawing at your psyche, the sense of being stressed sends you headlong into ways to help you feel better.
In your attempt to soothe your feelings of stress and anxiety, you may overindulge in the wrong foods, binge-eating at the drive-though, or drowning your sorrows in ice cream. Perhaps you choose to unwind with a glass, or several, of your favorite alcoholic beverage.
Some people chain smoke, or opt for more illicit coping mechanisms, like drugs. Eventually, your unhealthy choices will become a problem, causing a whole range of issues from weight gain to addiction, and contributing to hypertension.
From the dawn of time, human beings have had what’s known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction to any situation in which they sense danger. This was an excellent way to keep from being eaten by a saber toothed tiger, but will do some damage to your system if you react to your boss, or any other stressor, in the same way.
For example, say you receive a message that your boss would like to see you at the end of the day. Before you know it, your body says “saber tooth tiger” and releases adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones. Blood vessels constrict as the heart begins to pound away, moving the blood to your core and raising your blood pressure.
Your body is telling you to fight the threat, or run off into the woods. Neither of those are the best option in our modern world, especially if you want to stay employed and out of handcuffs. So your “fight-or-flight” response has nowhere to go. If your stress is compounded, or you face back-to-back challenges, a difficult work environment and home environment, your stress becomes chronic, and your reaction constant.
While the link between stress and blood pressure is still being researched, it seems pretty clear that stress is ultimately very unhealthy. There are several ways to ease the stress you feel in your life. Here are just a few:
While it isn’t always possible to get rid of the stressors in your life, there are better ways to cope and control those blood-pressure spiking reactions.
For more on how you can live a healthy life, and get your hypertension under control, contact Dr. Shawn Veiseh at University Executive Physical Program. We partner with our patients in and around Beverly Hills, California, to achieve your best life. If you’re ready to manage your health, contact our office today.