Shortness of breath, sweating, dry mouth and flushed features are all symptoms of stress. The symptoms of hypertension on the other hand are… Well, often there aren’t any.
The danger of hypertension is that it often goes undetected. Some external signs may be present that you’re a candidate for hypertension, such as obesity, smoking, heavy drinking, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hypertensive.
Still, chronic stress is often fairly simple to diagnose: insomnia, depression, inability to concentrate, fatigue, irritability, headaches and a feeling that there’s no way out, that the situation is hopeless.
Stress is dangerous, because it can suppress the immune system, leaving you open to infections and even tumours – but it doesn’t trigger hypertension.
Chronic stress can be treated in the following ways:
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake: have no more than one drink with supper, and no more than one strong cup of coffee each day.
- Getting enough sleep: Go to bed at the same time each night and get at least seven hours of sleep a night.
- Get some exercise: Start with 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week and work towards 30 minutes of vigorous exercise five times a week.
- Get creative: Have a hobby, whether it’s building model aircraft, learning origami or going skydiving. Research has shown that people who keep pets are less likely to suffer from chronic stress, so having a cat, dog or budgie may help. Learning t’ai chi, yoga or other relaxation techniques may also help.
These are all useful tips that can improve your quality of life, but none of them will be effective against hypertension if you have it.
Body mirrors the mind
Is all stress bad for you?