You’ve just been to the doctor and have received the diagnosis of high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). So now you find yourself needing to know effective ways to lower your blood pressure.
Is it something to worry about? Well, yes, because you don’t want that extra pressure on your arteries. Uncontrolled hypertension can cause lasting damage to your heart and contribute to several other health issues.
You should realize that you are not alone. According to the CDC, nearly half of the adults in the United States have some form of hypertension. Half! That’s roughly 108 million people who have hypertension or are taking meds to regulate blood pressure.
Fortunately, there are several things that you can start doing immediately to improve your health. Here are effective ways to lower your blood pressure.
I’ve grouped them into two categories because all of the other suggestions are under the umbrellas of the two biggest things to address.
It just makes sense. If you are overweight, the excess fat that you are storing is putting pressure on the arteries. Now, it’s easy to say, “lose weight,” but what are the most effective ways to do this? There are several steps you can take.
Watch your diet
You need to check your diet for the following, and either eliminate them or greatly reduce your intake.
· High total fat
· High saturated fat
· Processed foods
· Foods with lots of additives
Look for these foods (or foods with these properties), and add them into your diet
· Fruits and berries (they have antioxidant properties)
· Leafy greens (high in potassium and magnesium)
· High protein
If you need to add flavor to your food and think you can’t do without salt, check out using different spices and herbs instead. Cumin, ginger, cinnamon, basil, oregano…there are countless options to add flavor to your food without overdoing the salt.
Aside from diet, what’s the best way to lose weight? That’s right: get off the sofa and get to exercising! Actually, diet and exercise go hand in hand with each other.
This is one of those things that people always seem to have excuses about: “I don’t have time,” “I don’t want to pay for a gym,” “It’s been so long, I’m worried about hurting myself”…the list goes on and on.
I’m going to call out those excuses right now. You’re hurting yourself more by having high blood pressure. There are plenty of ways to exercise without joining a gym. And if you have time to sit and watch a television show or scroll through social media, you have time to exercise.
Exercise doesn’t mean dropping into full workouts right away. Get outside and walk the dog. Take an evening stroll. Park your car further from the entrance at work or the store (if it’s safe to do so). Take the stairs instead of an elevator.
The point is to just get active. You can work your way up to the other stuff.
You may be able to physically feel this one. When you get upset or agitated, do you feel hotter in the face, feel your muscles tensing up, or are you more aware of your heart beating? Those are all signs of elevated blood pressure.
But, just like “lose weight,” “reduce stress” is sometimes easier said than done.
Sure, exercise can help you channel energy from anger and high pressure into an effective workout. But just slowing down in the face of conflict – and then removing or reducing conflict – can be an even more effective method of lowering stress.
Here’s where I am going to step outside of the box and offer some suggestions that may be “out of the norm” recommendations.
I’m not talking full on “om” regimens or finding a guru to guide you (although if that’s your thing, go for it!). Simply stopping for a few minutes periodically, taking a deep breath or three, and re-centering your focus can keep you from getting too carried away.
Constant blaring noise from televisions, radio, traffic…those can all add up to serious agitation. And what happens when we get agitated? That’s right: hypertension flares.
If you live in the city, consider investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Tuning your ears into sounds that soothe you, whether it is waves crashing on a beach or the sounds of birds, can help keep you calm, filtering out the frantic and promoting feelings of peace.
Of course, if you happen to be near places where you can get those sounds in person, you should take the opportunity to periodically do so.
Noise doesn’t only affect us through our ears. We are constantly barraged by visual and emotional noise as well. Social media is the biggest culprit when it comes to blaring stressful things at us.
Maybe it’s feeling competitive with friends as they post amazing looking updates on their lives. Or it could be the seemingly constant string of negative headlines, doomsday predictions, or keyboard warriors who just want to fight.
Honestly, who has time for all of that?!?
If you can’t give up social media entirely (and let’s be honest, who of us could go completely cold turkey?), change your mindset. Remove yourself personally from everything and practice scrolling by things that you might otherwise argue about. And remember, nobody has the perfect life that they put out for others to see. Everyone posts the good things, while often hiding the bad. Don’t compete.
If you’ve received the diagnosis of high blood pressure, you have the opportunity to address it and make the necessary changes before it gets out of control and you have a heart event.
I would venture to say that most importantly, surround yourself with people and habits that make you happy and keep you calm. Simply recognizing the good around you can give you a better perspective, allowing you to make the potentially harder changes mentioned above.
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