Amongst the many factors that lead to high blood pressure like smoking, alcohol intake, obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance etc, stress seems to be a major player. And though stress is universal, individual responses to stress are different. There is the Type A personality, that is highly pressure prone and work-oriented. People suffering from it are usually aggressive, short-tempered, with a capacity to work more than others. They enjoy being internally stressed, and are usually more prone to develop hypertension than a relatively easy-going person.
Stress causes high blood pressure. The blood vessels get constricted as a response to stress and this constriction causes the blood pressure to rise. One way to combat mental stress is to meditate, take a holiday or to simply relax. Think of what poet Thomas Gray said "The paths of glory lead but to the grave". You must know your limitations and try to balance your life accordingly.
Pranayam or simple breathing exercises can also help lower blood pressure, calm a racing heart and also help improve your digestion. Now wonder then, when you are angry or afraid, your breathing becomes rapid and irregular. At such times, breathe slow, deep and regular to prevent a rise in pressure. The way to do this is close your eyes for a few minutes and divert your attention to your breath. You can do it in any position. First exhale completely through you mouth making a sound. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose mentally counting upto four. Hold your breath counting seven, then exhale through your mouth counting eight. This is one breath cycle. Repeat this four times. This breathing exercise is a natural tranquiliser for the nervous system. It will help those suffering from insomnia.
Try not to have your attention on your thoughts since they are the source of most of your anxieties. By shifting your focus on your breathing, you will be able to relax. You can repeat this exercise several times in a day.
Foods that help
Garlic: It’s a vasodilator (dilates blood vessels) that lowers blood pressure. Just three months of consuming two cloves of raw garlic in the morning reduces hypertension. Raw garlic is more potent than cooked garlic.
Wheat Grass Juice: This is a miraculous juice for those suffering from hypertension, as it is a rich source of magnesium and potassium. Both minerals can lower blood pressure. Getting enough magnesium and potassium can also lessen the dosage of medicine you are consuming.
Celery: It is extensively used in Chinese medicine to lower blood pressure. Studies at the University of Chicago have shown that just a few stalks of celery can lower BP when used continuously for a couple of months.
Remember, that most cardiovascular problems are diseases of lifestyle and not fate. You can easily lower your risk of getting them by modifying your lifestyle in the light of the above suggestions.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre
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