Christmas is a joyous time for family and friends to get together and share delicious meals and memories. Christmas can, for some, also be a stressful time and with this added stress, the risk of hypertension and an elevated reading may be present. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can damage your heart, major organs and arteries over time. This damage can increase your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases. How can stress impact hypertension and what can you do to reduce it?
It’s normal for your blood pressure to increase for a short time if you’re feeling stressed, said the British Heart Foundation.
The health site continued: “When you’re stressed your body releases hormones like adrenaline, the ‘fight or flight’ hormone.
“Adrenaline makes your heartbeat faster and your blood pressure rise as a way of helping your body cope with the situation.
“Once stress has passed, your blood pressure should go back to normal.
“Unhealthy habits linked to stress, like eating unhealthily and drinking too much alcohol can cause long-term high blood pressure.”
READ MORE: High blood pressure: Nosebleeds are a lesser-known warning sign your reading is too high
“The lack of supportive relationships not only leaves one without these resources but can itself be a major source of stress.
“Social isolation, defined in terms of the size and composition of the social network (eg, marital status, number of close friends and relatives, religious or other group affiliations) has been prospectively associated with cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.
“On the other hand, relationships can be a source of conflict, and the stress associated with unhappy or strained marriages has been associated with negative cardiovascular effects.
“Overall, there is growing empirical support for the hypothesis that exposure to chronic psychosocial stress contributes to the development of hypertension.”
How to lower your stress and reduce hypertension risk
The Mayo Clinic listed a few options to help lower your stress levels which include:
Simplify your schedule. If you always feel rushed, take a few minutes to review your calendar and to-do lists. Look for activities that take up your time but aren’t very important to you. Schedule less time for these activities or eliminate them completely.
Breathe to relax. Taking deep and slow breaths can help you relax.
Exercise. Physical activity is a natural stress buster. Just be sure to get your doctor’s OK before starting a new exercise program, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Try yoga and meditation. Yoga and meditation strengthen your body and help you relax. These techniques also may lower your systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg or more.
Get plenty of sleep. Too little sleep can make your problems seem worse than they really are.
Shift your perspective. When dealing with problems, resist the tendency to complain. Acknowledge your feelings about the situation, and then focus on finding solutions.