No matter what age you are, finding ways to lower your blood pressure is a good idea. In those little moments of anger or stress, your blood pressure can rocket, leaving you feeling panicked, unable to cope with a situation, and generally just awful. One such situation for me personally is going to the doctors. My white coat syndrome is HORRENDOUS. Ways to lower your blood pressure can help you with those short-term stress sensations, and can help you change your lifestyle habits for the better.
1. Deep Breaths
Count to 10 and breathe deeply. Yep, it feels silly and patronizing, but deep breathing works. When your blood pressure rockets, making sure your blood is well oxygenated will relieve some of the pressure on your heart. Thanks to our society’s obsession with washboard abs, many of us find deep breathing a bit difficult anyway. We naturally hold tension around our diaphragms, which is going to make your blood pressure worse! One of the more enjoyable ways to lower your blood pressure is to go and sit down somewhere and spend 10-minutes on deep breathing. Do this every day, and you will feel fantastic.
2. Lose 10 Pounds
Okay , so you can’t lose 10 pounds on the spot. If you are overweight though, slowly losing 10 pounds will have a great effect on your BP. I understand how boring weight loss can be and I hate eating healthy. In the past, I have found that simply eating slower is a massive help. Your brain can take up to 20 minutes to register that you are satisfied with food. Taking your time helps you enjoy food you love, while losing weight.
3. Walk, Walk, Walk
Walking to lower your blood pressure comes with long and short-term benefits. I read about a Korean study that demonstrated how a 40-minute walk a day can lower your blood pressure. However, more recent research has shown that just 20-minutes a day can lower it! That’s good news for those of us that are busy. Walking is also a great way to de-stress and take yourself away from whatever it is that has made you boil. Try making a playlist of empowering songs to go with your walk!
4. Boost Your Nitrate
Nitrate is your body’s most simple vasodilator! This means it makes your blood vessels dilate, which you seriously need when your BP is high. A study in 2009 found that drinking a glass a day of beetroot juice can reduce your BP by 7%. If, like me, you would rather snort cabbage than drink beetroot juice (dramatic, I know), you do have other options. My personal favorite is spinach, because it tastes awesome in salads and sandwiches. If you don’t like spinach, just add a little to a sharp berry smoothie.
5. Eat Yogurt
Even better than nitrate, yogurt can keep your blood vessels supple. A small study found that those who ate a small pot a day were 31% less likely to suffer from hypertension. The great thing about this is, it gives you an excuse to eat fro yo. I don’t need an excuse, I just do it anyway. Still, there are days when I like to justify lingering around the Yoo Moo counter in Harrods. So go love your yogurt on a daily basis.
6. Munch on Bananas
Potassium helps to regulate your body’s fluid levels. Bananas are a great source, but there are other ways to get your potassium levels up. I don’t know about you guys, but I am super fussy about my bananas. The slightest sign of brown and I balk like a child. Fortunately, just striving to eat five-a-day on the fruit front can help. Again, smoothies come in very handy here. Throw in some spinach and you can kill two birds with one stone.
7. Leave Your Desk
Very few arenas are more stressful than work. Also, as a parent, I understand that there are times when kids can make counting to 10 and breathing deeply an insurmountable challenge. So whether you are experiencing stress on the home front or the work front, take yourself into another room and chill out for a little bit. Giving yourself just 10-minutes lowers your BP while you have a little you time. Whatever happens in the 10-minutes you are absent can soon be handled when you have calmed down.
8. Ditch the Caffeine
I sort of sobbed as I wrote that. I love caffeine. Whether it is from Guatemala, Costa Rica, or Venus, caffeine is my instant best friend. Sadly, it can constrict your blood vessels, which means your heart has to pump harder. Try carrying a little decaf around with you, or learn to love herbal tea. After watching Breaking Bad, I genuinely developed a love for chamomile with stevia. Peppermint is awesome too!
9. Use a Little Nicotine Replacement Therapy
If you are a smoker, the worst thing you can do is pull out your smokes when you are stressed. In the short-term, cigarettes stimulate your body to produce more adrenaline. So even if those reward centers in your brain are like “Yay for nicotine” your heart is like “Urgh, I’ve gotta pump harder.” E-cigs are a bit contentious in the medical world, but a celeb doctor of sorts over here in the UK called Dr Christian Jessen recommends them over normal smokes any day. Otherwise, there are patches, gum, lozenges, nasal sprays…there are so many ways to have fun with NRT; it’s amazing.
Lowering your blood pressure isn’t just good for the future. When you are calm, you think clearly. The physiology at the heart of all stressful situations includes your heart going nuts, so taking a moment to soothe it is always worth it. If you have favorite ways to lower your BP, what are they?