Methods to Lower Your Stress
The causes of stress can be just about anything, anywhere. But here are the top 10 causes of stress:
- Death of a Spouse
- Marital Separation
- Death of a Close Family Member
- Jail Term
- Major Illness or Injury
- Being Fired From Work
- Marital Reconciliation
Stress has an effect on our bodies
Stress has an impact on our physical system in many ways:
The Nervous system — reacts to a problem by triggering our fight or flight response. This flood our system with adrenaline. The problem can be emotional, physical, real or imagined, but its effect is the same.
The Musculoskeletal system – when the adrenaline floods the system the muscles tighten up. This affects the body from big muscles all the way down to the muscles surrounding the arterioles. If this continues then the muscle condition can help cause migraines and tension headaches. It can also contribute to other aches and pains.
The Respiratory system — the adrenaline surge causes your breathing to speed up. It can even cause you to hyperventilate (breathe rapidly). This can lead to fainting and anxiety attacks.
The Cardiovascular system
The Endocrine system — this is where the fight or flight hormones are produced. So stress triggers this system and it triggers everything else.
The Gastrointestinal system — when under stress your stomach may experience butterflies. This too is part of the fight or flight response. You have more adrenaline in your system, this affects the smooth muscle of the stomach. There is less blood flow to the digestive system as more blood is sent to the muscles of the body to prepare it for action. With all the hormones you can experience heartburn, nausea, and even vomiting. Because this affects your digestive system there can also be sudden diarrhea or constipation.
Of course, this is just a simplified outline of what stress can do to our bodies.
How to deal with stress
It all begins with our sympathetic nervous system being triggered. This is why there’s been more than one attempt to block this system from doing it’s job. (You can read about an old attempt here. They tried to update the procedure in the last year but the results were inconclusive.) There are non-surgical ways to deal with stress as well. Last time we also looked at some potentially destructive ways people cope.
Let’s look at some beneficial ways to calm our system down.
Try Yoga — There are all kinds of yoga available. If you’re like me, some of the more mystical stuff doesn’t do anything for you. I’ve joked with friends about coming up with “Bubba Yoga”. Part of the outfit would be beater t-shirts and cutoffs. Maybe work boots and a trucker’s cap would finish it all out. I haven’t decided how to get the couch and the remote in — there has to be exercise ya know. It’s still a work in progress — but you can go here and get the next best thing. And no, I’m not an affiliate.
T’ai Chi — This is another form of relaxation that develops balance and serenity. Some have called it “Meditation in motion”. You may not have classes available to you in your area. If not, here is a site where you can learn some about it, and there are all kinds of books and videos on Amazon.
Some other form of exercise — preferably non-competitive. Again you may be like me and can get worked up just playing a chess game (I like to win!). The idea here is to find something to reduce stress, not add to it.
You’re looking for a few things:
- To get you out of the house and away from any stress factors found there.
- Get you outside. Nature has a way of infusing calm (unless you’re caught in a storm or attacked by wildlife.)
- To get the endorphins flowing. (These are another set of hormones. They cause a sense of pleasure and well being. They’re a type of antidote for stress hormones.)
Stop Smoking — I know that many people think that smoking has a calming affect on their nerves. The reason that it does is because it is feeding the appetite and addiction that tobacco had created. But nicotine actually is a stimulant. It causes more stress inducing hormones to flow. This in turn helps to maintain blood pressure elevation.
Adjust your Attitudes — this is a five step process that is essential to stress control.
- Assert yourself. I’m not talking about being a bully. To be assertive is to know when to stand up for your rights and beliefs. There will be times you will have to say “No”. It’s not always comfortable and people will put pressure on you, but you have to stand.
- Develop effective time management skills. Most of us find ourselves with too many demands and not enough time. So we have to set priorities and pace ourselves. We live in the society of instant everything. Just remember, not everything has to be done yesterday. Some things can wait until tomorrow.
- Find time for yourself. This is why you have to be assertive. You’ve got to have times where you just chill out. This can be with your family — but there have to be times when it is just yourself. This unwinding will be sure “your spring is not wound too tight”
- Don’t set goals that you can’t achieve. This doesn’t mean that your only goal for the day is to get out of bed in the morning. Some people set impossibly high goals with unrealistic deadlines to meet them. They are just setting themselves up for stress. Remember, “The best way to eat an elephant is one bit at a time.”
- Take control of what you can and leave behind what you can’t. All too often we spend time and resources in things that are out of our control. This brings on stress. Do a realistic evaluation of everything in your life. Does what you do really have any sizable impact on it? If not, let it go. Concentrate on what you can influence.
So, in answer to the question, “does stress affect blood pressure?” the answer is yes.
If it is short term stress, then the effects will be short term. But if it is chronic stress, the repercussions can have lasting results.
So make use of the de-stressing tips and not only lower your blood pressure, but your stress levels as well.