The relationship between anxiety and blood pressure is an important one. Do you know how anxiety and blood pressure are connected?
Many believe that anxiety causes high blood pressure, and that high blood pressure can cause anxiety. Are they right?
Anxiety and blood pressure are definitely linked, but what kind of correlation do they have?
Anxiety doesn’t cause blood pressure, but it does cause temporary spikes in blood pressure levels. When the body experiences stress and anxiety, the sympathetic nervous system temporarily increases heart rate and constricts blood vessels, resulting in higher blood pressure. After the stressor passes, the heart rate slows, blood vessels open, and blood pressure return to normal.
When infrequent, these temporary rises aren’t harmful to your heart. The body experiences the symptoms of high blood pressure for only a few minutes at a time.
When frequent, these spikes start to have the same effect on the body as long-term high blood pressure. The nervous system kicks in and the body stays in that temporary high blood pressure state for longer. Those blood pressure spikes start to take a toll on your arteries and your heart.
Properly handling anxiety is integral to protect your heart and overall well-being. Not dealing with anxiety in a healthy manner can lead to unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, and overeating, which all raise blood pressure.
Learn how to deal with your anxiety to protect your heart. There’s not a one-size-fits-all remedy. Several methods may be effective for you. Try out these tips to see which one works best for you:
Taking several deep breaths can significantly reduce anxiety levels. Don’t get caught up with specific breathing exercises—just inhale and exhale. Breathing centers your attention to the present and helps you relax.
Meditation has profound effects to reduce anxiety. Meditation quiets the mind, allowing it to rest from anxiety-driven thoughts. Meditation practice reprograms neural pathways in the brain, improving the ability to process emotions.
Physical exercise is one of the best ways to destress. Exercise counteracts the harmful effects of stress. People who exercise don’t experience temporary blood pressure spikes as dramatically as those who are physically inactive.
Sleep deprivation heightens the brain’s physical response to stressors. The brain reacts more dramatically to any type of stressor when sleep deprived. Those who don’t get enough sleep are significantly more likely to feel anxious.
Limit alcohol and caffeine
Those who experience anxiety often use alcohol and caffeine as self-medication, but both substances heighten anxiety symptoms. Alcohol especially worsens problems. Stay away from both substances when you’re feeling anxious.