By Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
© 2004. All Rights Reserved.
You don't always have to wait to quit your job or lose weight before lowering your blood pressure. Use these natural techniques to re-gain your health and reduce stress.
Trying just a few of these many tips into your daily life can help blood pressure control and reduce stress levels.
- Reduce Sodium Intake and Increase Potassium Intake.
Reduce or eliminate colas from your diet. Use low or no sodium soy sauce or other seasonings products. Avoid pre-packaged, pre-made foods such as boxed frozen and canned foods which are high in sodium (20% or more of you daily value). Increase high potassium foods such as unsalted tomato sauce bananas, avocados, cantaloupe, apricots, raisins, beans, figs & winter squash.
- Exercise Daily.
Studies show that cardio vascular exercise reduces blood pressure and relieves stress. Sometimes due to health reasons or time constraints we cannot work out often or engage in a vigorous cardio-vascular program. That is okay. Start by walking for 5-15 minutes per day. Slowly increase your walking time and soon you may be able to go to the gym again. Also try hatha yoga, qi-gong or tai-chi.
- Use Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs.
New scientific research studies show that acupuncture reduces blood pressure by reducing stress hormones and releasing good hormones called endorphins. Chinese herbs are often used in combination with acupuncture to balance the root cause of energy disharmony which may contribute to high blood pressure.
- Take Breaks At Work.
To reduce your stress, walk out of the office for a few minutes, breathe deeply and let go.
- Reduce Exposure to News Media.
Cut down on T.V. news shows, newspaper and magazine reading and internet news media. News sources such as T.V. news, news magazine shows, Court TV, Cops, Unsolved Mysteries and other crime shows as well as glossy news magazines thrive on inducing fear and anxiety which causes blood pressure to rise as stress levels rise.
- Give Yourself Alone Time.
Even five minutes a day of quiet time can help. Try any of the following; meditate, walk, sit in a garden, breathe, go for a drive or bike ride.
- Engage in Low Stress Activities You Enjoy
Knitting, golfing, gardening, playing with pets, fishing, dance, sing, play an instrument, walk in the park or meet a friend for tea.
Become aware of your breath. Do you stop breathing when you are stressed or do you sigh a lot? Do you take short breaths into the top of your chest? Or do breathe deeply filling down to the bottom of your belly? Take time to just breathe and relax. You don't always have try some special breathing exercise because sometimes just sitting and feeling the sensation breath moving through your body can be enough. Inhale through the nose, feel the air move through, is it cool or warm? Can you feel it move through the throat? Notice your chest expand, your lungs fill and ribs expand. As you exhale notice your belly soften, ribs soften, chest relax and warm air move out of your mouth.
- Develop Mindful Awareness.
Become mindful of your reactions to stressful situations. What raises the hair on the back of your neck? What causes you tense up your shoulders or jaw? What situations or people cause your blood to boil? As you become aware of your stress reactions to people, places and things, take a breath and consider this advice Tibetan monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, writes in his book Anger. Wisdom for Cooling the Flames:
'The first function of mindfulness is to recognize, not fight. "Breathing in, I know anger has manifested in me". And breathing out, "I will take good care of you." Once we have recognized our anger we embrace it. This is the second function of mindfulness, and it is a very pleasant practice. Instead of fighting we are taking good care of our emotion. If you know how to embrace your anger, something will change.'
"I have been proud to call Ms. Aiyana a professional colleague for many years. Ms. Aiyana is a dynamic and engaging speaker and writer. She has the rare ability to combine science, sage wisdom and common sense and make it accessible to both the professional and the lay person alike. I have listened to Ms. Aiyana speak in seminar and have observed her interact with many on an individual basis. I have learned a great deal from, and have been inspired by her prolific writing on numerous topics. I highly regard and recommend Ms. Aiyana. On a personal note, I have also had the pleasure of being a patient of Ms. Aiyana. Her skill, confidence and warmth as a Health Care Practitioner are second to none."
- Dr. Tom Cristello