Managing stress is important for everyone, whether you are managing a medical condition, pursuing a more active lifestyle, or adjusting your diet and nutrition. All too often in our hectic lives, we overlook the importance of ‘winding down.’ Yet, oft-quoted studies as seemingly unconnected as church-goers living 30% longer than non-church-goers, and greater longevity in individuals walking for 30 minutes or more per day, may share a common link. Could it be that the simple explanation is that both these groups of people are taking time out to quieten their minds?
In weight loss and/or muscle growth
Exercise creates temporary physiological stress. This can set off a very positive chain of hormonal events within the body, but only if this and other forms of stress are not prolonged. Long periods of elevated cortisol and other stress-associated hormones have a deleterious effect, and prevent repair and growth (and also fat loss) from occurring properly.
High blood pressure
Many of our customers suffer from hypertension, and need to monitor their health with a digital blood pressure monitor. Whilst high blood pressure (hypertension) has a number of causes, often the body is under some form of prolonged physiological stress (caused by psychological stress, or another health condition). This is evidenced by the power of the placebo effect on blood pressure. Many medical trials for blood pressure reduction procedures have random allocation to treatment or placebo groups, because it’s recognised that relatively large reductions in blood pressure (up to 10mmHg) are observed even in placebo groups.
Other conditions very common amongst our clients, like atrial fibrillation, are also linked with stress: either that their AF is trigged by stress, their condition developed after a period of great physiological stress (e.g. heart surgery) or emotional stress (divorce, bereavement), or long-term stress on the body may have contributed to the more gradual development of their condition, as it’s common in people with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other comorbidities.
In the context of today's article from the BBC that mental health and relationships are the key to happiness, not our paycheques, it seems sensible to take a moment to reassess our priorities. Making time for our emotional, psychological or spiritual needs pays dividends, and the best news of all is that its benefits (such as reduced blood pressure) can be felt almost immediately.