A pestering cycle

Whether stress causes hypertension or it is vice versa, lifestyle change is the right solution

A pestering cycle

I am a 38-year-old male, working in a high-profile and high-pressure environment. I drink occasionally but smoke regularly and have no time for myself. Lately, my stress has been through the roof and, to add to it, my blood pressure readings are off the charts. I am really upset to see this and can't seem to wrap my head around the idea that I need medication at this young age. I wanted to know if my blood pressure was the cause of my stress, or if the high stress has led to the increase in blood pressure. Any tips about what I can do with a busy lifestyle?

This conundrum is like asking "whether the egg came first or the chicken"? Be stressed and fall sick; fall sick and be stressed. Sadly, stress has become a part of our daily lives. Stress is good in limited doses as it drives and motivates you but, when it becomes a part of everything in your daily routine, it burns you out.

Recent reports indicate that nearly one billion adults (more than a quarter of the world's population) had hypertension in 2000; and this is predicted to increase to 1.56 billion by 2025. These numbers are an eye-opener.

The only way to deal with this growing number of hypertensives would be to attack it from all sides. This is where the role of a psychiatrist and a physician becomes important.

Lifestyle change: These two words can literally change your life. One would reasonably argue that in today's fast paced world, how would one make any changes at all. So, here are a few steps for reducing stress and thereby bringing down the chances of suffering from chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes.

Lifestyle modification tips for the busy individual:

It all starts with a small step.

Step 1: Don't sweat the small stuff.

Choose your battles wisely. If it's something trivial, let it go.

Step 2: Your body is your number one priority.

The sooner you decide to make a change in your body, the more your chances of feeling better.

Step 3: Eat smart.

Young professionals sometimes live alone and have no one to cook. Eating out or the Zomato diet is slowly becoming a norm. It is not only about what you should eat, but also about what you should not eat. Fried, salty and processed food increase the chances of hypertension.

Step 4: Be wise about your vices.

Drop one vice from your life today. Be it smoking, drinking, anger or extreme risk-taking. Hypertension has a strong correlation with all of these.

Step 5: Exercise and meditate.

It's not about "either", "or". A sedentary lifestyle demands that you pick up an activity at least 3-4 times a week. Meditation is an add-on, which helps progressively reduce stress and hypertension. If you can't meditate, just start with simple breathing exercises.

Step 6: A smartphone isn't always smart.

Disconnect. Don't answer every text immediately. Avoid constantly reaching out for the phone. This is especially important for a sound sleep at night.

Step 7: Medication isn't your enemy.

If the doctor has prescribed you antihypertensives, have them on time.

Meanwhile, incorporate the lifestyle changes. With time and regular follow-ups, one can tide over the need for medication if the doctor feels suitable. Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will all these steps happen overnight. So, keep trying. Make small changes and get your blood pressure checked regularly by a professional.

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