How would you describe the pandemic in one word? Depressing. Sad. Heartbreaking. Stressful. Inhumane. Unfair. You name it, we’ve thought it. And to make matters worse, recent studies have just announced that the pandemic is causing a rise in blood pressure.
Although the headline is hard to see, it makes sense. With the bottomless amounts of loss (both personal, professionally, and globally), grief, anxiety, and massive disconnection, we aren’t surprised blood pressure is rising. After all, it’s the most stressful time of our lives.
The blood pressure rise does not discriminate, often affecting all age groups, genders, and locations. High blood pressure, known as hypertension, can even lead to heart attacks and strokes if not tackled. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of over 785,000 Americans and those with increased high blood pressure can also cause damage to the brain, blood vessels, heart, eyes, kidneys, and sexual function.
Have we increased your awareness of how bad high blood pressure can be? Now for the good news.
Below we share ways on how to lower your blood pressure. Hint, it doesn’t always have to include medicine. Remember, we might not be able to change what is happening in the world, but we sure can change how we respond to it.
Loose the pounds gained in quarantine
Fact, blood pressure often increases as weight increases. By having extra weight on you, it can disrupt your breathing and raise your blood pressure. Weight loss is one of the best ways to control blood pressure, even if it’s a small loss.
If you drink heavily, lowering that amount to 1-2 drinks of alcohol a day can potentially lower your blood pressure. If you drink more than 2, it can put you at high risk for high blood pressure.
Regular physical activity (30 minutes a day) can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mmHg if you have high blood pressure. The key here is to be consistent to see results. Some examples to lower your blood pressure include: walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing.
Whether you like it or not, sleep affects everything. It can be the difference in glowing, hydrated skin and lack luster dull texture. But mostly, it can highly impact your mood, energy, and total health.
Reduce your sodium intake
Reducing the sodium in your diet can help your blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mmHg if you have high blood pressure. In general, you’ll want to have 2,300 milligrams (mg) or less per day. To decrease sodium, make sure you read the food labels, eat fewer processed foods, and stop yourself from adding salt to every meal.
Easier said than done of course, but try the below steps to mitigate stress. Try to sort out exactly what’s making you feel stressed: work, family, finances, pandemic, illness, or other. See if you can eliminate or decrease the stress with one of the below options:
- Change your expectations
- Avoid stress triggers
- Insert more me-time
- Practice gratitude
- Engage in activities that make you happy and promote relaxation
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