Slow down or die!

Over the past year my blood pressure (BP) has been of concern to my nurse.  On her recommendation I saw my doctor, who prescribed a 24 hour blood pressure monitor to get a better picture of the situation.

I was relieved to see that the results did not indicate I have a serious blood pressure problem. But they do indicate that I may need to consider medication to control my BP in the future.

I’m ‘young’, or so my doctor says, and live a relatively healthy lifestyle – I don’t smoke, I eat regular healthy meals and I do my best to get regular exercise (but not in the rain!).

My doctor questioned whether I experienced much stress. I pondered this and thought back to the time when a my nurse first noticed a slight BP increase. Not surprisingly, I realised that this was around the time I increased my working hours.

At the time I was very proud of myself for being able to manage more hours and not feel over-loaded. But now I see it is possible that this increase in hours may have been the beginning of stress having a subtle impact on my blood pressure.

It was clearly and simply pointed out to me that high blood pressure doesn’t kill you – a great start! However, if someone has a consistent high BP it can cause stress and damage to their blood vessels, resulting in a higher risk of heart attack or stroke – not so great!

In a world of fast growth, fast food, fast internet, bells, whistles, and gadgets that make anything and everything fast and more convenient, how do we slow down? How do we de-stress, or not get stressed to begin with?

I’m no expert, but I’ll share a few strategies I try regularly.
I’ve blogged about this before in ‘Stress kills’.

Balance: Learning to say no (or not saying yes to everything and getting overloaded) and incorporate relaxing down time into everyday life.  Barbara recently blogged about this in the Balancing Act.  And, Philip Patston has discussed similar ideas, in OPD (Obsessive Productivity Disorder) and I said no and the world didn’t end.

Breathing meditation: This year I have been doing breathing meditation, where I focus on my breath and breathing deeply. It is very relaxing and forces you to stop and slow down. Here is a list of audio files for various guided meditations, including a breathing one:
http://www.guilford.com/cgi-bin/cartscript.cgi?page=add/segal2/audio.html

Soothing music: I often listen to calm, soothing music when I do my breathing meditation. It’s a lovely way to relax.

Socialising: I personally find hanging out with friends to be a great way to chill out, relax and enjoy myself. People energise me with their positive vibes, and socialising keeps my mental well being in check.

In short, I’m not going to die!  I’m not going to have to start taking blood pressure medication either, yet. But I am going to be a lot more aware of my stress levels and any contributing factors that may cause my BP to rise.  And continue with my efforts to slow down the pace of life.

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