There’s no doubt these are stressful times.
And when there’s stress, there’s something else you need to be mindful of… your blood pressure.
Stress can trigger your body’s fight or flight response, which can have a negative impact on your blood pressure levels.
Which is why managing your stress levels is so critical right now.
Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed and stressed out, I hit the pause button, retreat to a quiet space, and practice some deep breathing exercises.
I use my stomach muscles to breath in. And then just relax those same muscles to exhale without any effort.
Five minutes a day of deep breathing and I feel like a new – more relaxed – person.
Other lifestyle changes have been shown to help lower stress and support healthy blood pressure.
Like physical activity.
No need to go overboard, though.
Just a brisk walk every day can have a real positive impact on your BP.
Or, get a workout… in the bedroom.
Research suggests there’s a link between greater frequency of sex and healthy blood pressure.
Diet also plays a role.
Just about everyone knows sodium consumption plays a role in maintaining healthy BP.
But it’s not necessarily the amount of sodium that’s a problem, but the ratio of sodium to potassium.
You see, most folks don’t get enough potassium to offset their heavy sodium intake.
Good sources of potassium include leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, oranges and apricots.
Or, if you’re really concerned about this, a small can of low-sodium V8 packs a major dose of potassium, in just a few calories.
Have you heard about the super tasty treat that does wonders for healthy blood pressure? Dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is rich in phenols and flavonoids, which help maintain normal blood pressure levels.
One study found that eating about 30 calories of dark chocolate a day helped to support healthy blood pressure… without weight gain or other adverse effects.
It’s important to note that these health perks were found with dark chocolate.
Milk chocolate does not offer the same protection. So, don’t think eating a Kit Kat each day is going to lower your BP.
Look for dark chocolate containing at least 70% cacao content and indulge a little.
You can also eat some blueberries.
Blueberries get their dark blue color from antioxidants known as anthocyanins. And these potent antioxidants have been shown to support healthy blood pressure.
Limiting alcohol consumption is also key to maintaining healthy BP levels.
While low to moderate alcohol consumption can help support heart health and blood pressure, excess alcohol intake can have a negative impact.
By all accounts, Americans have been drinking more since the pandemic began.
If you’re indulging in more than 1-2 drinks per night, consider cutting back to support your BP.
Finally, and this just might be my favorite healthy BP trick, get a pet.
Numerous studies have shown that pet owners have better blood pressure compared to adults without pets in the home.
Keeping your blood pressure healthy as you adjust to the “new normal” will go a long way to helping you maintain good health throughout the pandemic – and beyond.
So, if you’re worried about heading back to work, or just anxious in general about what the future holds, keep these BP tips in mind.
Breathe deeply, get out for a walk, enjoy some chocolate and blueberries, or spend some time with a furry friend to help keep your blood pressure in the healthy zone.
Stay safe out there.