Learning you have high blood pressure can be overwhelming. There are so many ways to lower it, and you might be unsure what advice to follow. Make an appointment with a St. Joseph Health physician to form a plan for your health. Ask your doctor if these five unique ways to lower your blood pressure could be right for you!
1. Try the DASH Diet
One way of lowering your blood pressure is to change your eating habits. The DASH diet offers a helpful model for eating to manage your blood pressure. DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The DASH diet contains less red meat, salt and sweets compared to the average American diet. Rather than fatty, sugary foods, opt for fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Kuy Houser, MD, primary care physician at St. Joseph Health Primary Care Barron Road, advises, “Be mindful of what you eat, and try substituting healthier foods in place of desserts or fatty snacks.” Try low-fat yogurt and berries in place of ice cream, and enjoy some whole-wheat crackers instead of potato chips. Keeping a food diary, in which you write down when and what you eat, is a great way to stay dedicated to the DASH diet.
2. Have a Good Laugh
Laughter could really be the best medicine! Studies show that laughing regularly increases “good cholesterol,” namely HDL, while also decreasing stress hormones and artery inflammation. Negative stress increases blood pressure, and laughing is a great way to combat stress and get that blood pressure back down. Laughter improves blood circulation and increases your intake of oxygen. Watch a funny movie or find some good jokes to have a hearty laugh every day!
Each time you smoke a cigarette, your blood pressure increases. Luckily, within weeks of quitting, your blood pressure can return to normal. Although quitting can be difficult, it’s definitely worth it! Smoking hurts your body in many ways, including increasing your chances for lung cancer and heart disease, so quitting is vital. You might experience both physical and mental urges after you quit, making you want a cigarette. Fight these urges by keeping yourself occupied; spend time in conversation with nonsmokers or try snacking on low-fat foods. If you’re having trouble, ask your doctor for help.
4. Mellow Out
Lowering your stress levels can also lower your blood pressure. Decide on simple goals to begin relaxing more. For instance, every time you find yourself thinking negatively, turn it around for the positive. Instead of thinking “I can’t do this” or “I’ll never get this right,” remind yourself that you’ll try your best and take it one step at a time. Repeat a positive phrase, like “I can do this” or “I won’t let this get me down,” every morning and evening. Another way to destress involves diffusing stressful situations. When you’re stressed, annoyed or anxious, count to 10 and take deep breaths before speaking. If need be, walk away from a stressful situation until you’re better able to handle it. For long-term relaxation, try something new– painting, meditation, yoga or reading are all good options. Consider taking a course in whatever helps you relax, whether it’s tai chi or tennis.
5. Start a Relationship
Forming a relationship with your doctor is essential to lowering your blood pressure. At every appointment, ask about your blood pressure and discuss any struggles or questions you have with your doctor. Think about what stands in your way of having lower blood pressure. Is it finding the time to exercise, quitting smoking, remembering to take your medicine? Whatever it is, be honest with your doctor and, together, you can build a plan to successfully lower your blood pressure.
There are countless ways to lower your blood pressure. Be certain you consult a physician to find the right methods for your body. Make an appointment with a St. Joseph Health physician today to discover what works for you.
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