Stress and hypertension
A high blood pressure: it could happen to all of us. Unfortunately in 9 out of 10 cases it is not clear how people get hypertension (high blood pressure). But it is known that hypertension increases the risk on heart disease, among others. It turns out that stress has a lot of influence on your blood pressure and on your well being, both physical and psychological. Would you like to learn more about stress and hypertension? This article by Wendy Van Mieghem, psychotherapist and teacher in inner growth, will help you out.
What is hypertension?
Our heart contracts in order to pump blood into the arteries. This usually happens with an enormous power, which leads to pressure on the walls of the arteries. This is what we call ‘blood pressure’. When the blood vessels become less wide or less flexibel, the blood pressure rises. When your average blood pressure is higher than 140/90 it is called hypertension.
There are several known causes that may lead to high blood pressure. Besides smoking, overweight, too little physical exercise and eating too much salt, stress is an important cause of hypertension. Therefore, a lot of general practitioners recommend people to learn to deal with tension and stress, so they can lower their blood pressure. But how do you control stress? And what is stress?
The influence of stress
Your body makes hormones in response to a threatening situation or stimulus. These hormones bring your body and mind in an alert state; this is called a stress reaction. Your respiration and heartbeat accelerate, your muscles tighten and your sensory perception sharpens. When the positive or negative inducements have passed, your body will automatically return to it’s rest position.
Every human experiences tension and stress on a daily base. As long as your body and mind have enough time in between to rest and relax, you’ll keep your balance. There’s no reason for extra concern then. When you’re experiencing tension and stress over a longer periode of time, your body and mind may lack time to come to relaxation and rest. Long-lasting stress may lead to changes in the functioning of your immune system, decreased concentration and memory function, sleeping problems and hypertension.
There appear to be large differences between individuals in what is causing them stress and tension. But there are also some similarities. Most people experience stress as a result of:
- performance-related pressure: external (for example in relation to a superior) or internal (asking yourself to do your best in order to attain a goal that might be out of your league)
- emotions and feelings: we find it hard to deal with emotions (e.g. fear, anger, powerlessness et cetera) and emotional pain
- a physical and/or mental disease
- wanting to meet realistic or imaginary expectations
- psychological distress, as in trauma, loss of a loved one, relational problems, depression, anxiety, neglect or abuse
Signals that point to excessive stress are (among others) headache, dizziness, sleep disorders, concentration problems, fixed shoulders and/or neck, lower bodily reserves and apathy.
Dealing with stress and hypertension
When you experience stress regularly or when you have hypertension, it is necessary to give your body and mind some of your time and attention. Only then it becomes possible to recover. You support your mind and body in it’s recovery process by making sure that you have enough sleep, live a normal day and night rhythm, exercise regularly and by meditating. Meditation is a good and natural way to lower your stress and hypertension.
Lower your stress and hypertension with meditation
Whenever you meditate you focus your attention inwards. Meditation is a state of being in which you think constructively. You use your thoughts to focus your attention. Attention follows thoughts.
Scientific research results show that meditation has a positive effect on your entire physical and psychic well-being. On a physical level meditation helps to:
- lower your heart rate
- lower stress
- lower your blood pressure
- improve the collaboration between your left and right hemisphere
- sleep better
- feel more energetic
On a psychic level meditation may help to release your stress and to find relaxation, balance and inner peace, as long as you don’t push yourself while learning to meditate and keep your goals easy to attain. Other psychic benefits of meditation on a regular base are:
- feeling good
- decreased anxiety and stress feelings
- feeling less depressed
- increased self-knowledge
- increased well-being and happiness
- improved concentration
- improved memory function
Learn how to meditate
So now you might think that it is really difficult to meditate and therefore you’re not interested in meditation. Well, then I’ve got some good news: meditation is not difficult and everybody can do it! It is important though that you practise regularly.
As a teacher and psychotherapist I use meditation every day. I’m happy to invite you to give it a try and see for yourself what it’s like to meditate. In that way you can experience the benefits of meditation yourself and hopefully lower your stress and hypertension. Perhaps you prefer to start with meditation at home. I’ve developed the Spiritual Psychology Basics online course to fit this purpose. Spiritual Psychology Basics is available in English and in Dutch.
Perhaps it’s easier for you to learn how to meditate in direct contact with a teacher. You’re warmly invited to join the training that I offer. All training start regularly with new groups, so I’m sure there’s a training that fits your needs.
Let me put the possibilities straight:
- Subscribe to my newsletter
- Spiritual Psychology minicourse
- Spiritual Psychology Basics: online course of 7 lessons with meditation and mindfulness exercises that help you to meditate whereever and whenever you like.
- The Art of Being a pro: a 3 day course on the interaction between personal- and professional development. With meditation and mindfulness exercises.
- Nature of Being Training: a process of bi-annual courses of five days each. To get to the core of your being. It enables you to find your way to a grounded, balanced and fulfilled daily life. With meditation exercises.
- Spiritual Psychology Education: a certified 7 year life based education.
Every training is in English. A new training start regularly in the Netherlands (Europe) and on invitation in other countries as well.
I’m looking forward to meet you!
Wendy Van Mieghem, psychotherapist, writer and healer
stress and hypertension