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Stress Management For Hypertension

May 23, 2008
The way we live in our busy world, not many of us are surprised to find ourselves frequently under stress. Whether going to school or work, raising children and maintaining a home, or even if retired we find ourselves overwhelmed by the immense pressure placed on us by other people and circumstances. We are constantly bombarded with stress, stress and yet more stress. Of course we all know that stress of the right type and amount can be a positive motivator but severe and chronic stress has numerous mental and emotional implications. In the long term it can even prove deadly.

So it will be no surprise to hear that such high levels of stress are a cause of or factor in many health problems. Stress can be devastating to our bodies; it increases our heart rate, causes high blood pressure and may also result in insomnia and other sleep disorders. What's more, it can develop into eating disorders and other behavioral problems.

For example, stress can contribute to high blood pressure in several ways; as a response to direct physical stress such as occurs through eating an unhealthy and not getting enough rest and relaxation or as a response to emotional and situational stress that arises through our interactions with life. Stress triggers the body's "sympathetic system", releasing stress hormones that wreck havok on the body. Constant activation of the sympathetic system leads to hypertension and is also a factor in obesity. Anti-hypertensive drugs can block receptors involved in this process but do nothing about the root problem. Treating symptoms can have its place but you also need to address the origin of the problem: stress.

What often happens is that stress accumulates in a person's life until it can no longer be contained. This the famous "pressure cooker" syndrome. At some point it will explode, potentially causing hurt and damage to yourself and others around you. So-called "stress management" is a better approach. Learn to manage your stress by talking it out with loved ones or other trusted people. Seek out someone that you can talk to and whom you can share your pain with. It is miraculous how just talking can help you deal with the immense stress you face everyday. It's easy to put off professional help or counseling, but why not try talking to your spouse, friends or others? People who are emotionally close to you will likely be able to give you the encouragement and support you need to overcome your stress.

Another way to deal with stress is to simply let it go. You could also call this burning it out with some activity. While talking may work for some people, others may need to reduce stress through other means. Some people look to activities and sports to help them de-stress. The first thing you need to do if you find yourself stressed out is to distance yourself from it. Stop focusing on the problem as it will only make matters worse for you.

If all else fails, perhaps it's time to seek professional help. Your doctor is no doubt the best place to start. A doctor may want to refer you to a specialist or may decide that medication could help you on a temporary basis. There are also a large number of support groups that may be able to help. Look for stress-related forums on the Internet.

Remember that stress can be managed. However, you have to make the first move and take appropriate action before you can combat it effectively. Life is short enough; don't waste it on unnecessary stress that can lead to serious health problems. Learn effective stress management today!
About the Author
Jan Oliver is an academic, writer and researcher in natural health. See more of her work at
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