Laughing and Blood Pressure – What’s Going On?

laughing and blood pressureLaughing and blood pressure – it’s a serious subject. Does laughing lower your blood pressure or raise it? This is no laughing matter for those with high blood pressure…

Funnily enough, laughing raises and lowers your blood pressure. Sounds like a bad joke? Read on.

 

What’s the relationship between laughing and blood pressure?

Basically, the relationship between laughing and blood pressure varies depending on how often you’re laughing.

Laughing briefly raises your blood pressure while you’re laughing. But if you laugh regularly – we’re talking deep belly laughs here, not polite chuckles – it can actually lower your blood pressure in general. In other words, regular laughing lowers blood pressure even when you’re not laughing.

Sounds funny? Well, several studies are now demonstrating the mental and physical benefits of laughing. A Japanese study of middle-aged men and women who attended regular sessions of laughter yoga experienced significant reductions in blood pressure. The laughing sessions lowered blood pressure  immediately after a laughter session. And after doing a laughter session weekly for three months, their average blood pressure readings were lower too.

In other words, the effect of regular laughing seemed to persist for some time.

A similar effect was found in stressed Indian information technology-workers, with blood pressure drops of around 6 mm/Hg after just a few weeks of laughter sessions.

 

How does laughter lower blood pressure?

How laughter lowers blood pressure involves a few factors.

Firstly, laughing is excellent stress relief. And since stress is often at least a partial cause of many people’s high blood pressure, this is significant.

When you get stressed, your body release stress hormones like cortisol. Cortisol directly acts on the walls (the lining) of the blood vessels, causing them to contract. And the narrower your blood vessels, the greater the pressure of the blood against the vessel walls. Cortisol also makes the heart beat faster, further raising blood pressure.

So how does laughing lower blood pressure? Well it helps to counteract this physical response to stress.

According to the “Clown Doctors” of Australia’s Humour Foundation,

Laughter reduces the production of stress hormones, not only during the time of laughter but also for some time after. Laughter also works the muscles, leading to an initial rise in blood pressure followed by a more sustained drop. Blood vessels dilate and an increased amount of oxygen enters the circulation due to deeper breathing. The ‘heartier’ the laugh, the better – laughing 15-20 minutes a day is good for heart health.

Even just watching funny videos has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), raise endorphin levels (‘feel good hormones’), and improve blood flow in the arteries.

Researchers emphasise that the most benefits come from real hearty belly laughs lasting for a minute or so – a polite chuckle or two isn’t quite enough. Struggling to find enough humour in your daily life though? No worries. Here are some tried-and-tested ways to have a good laugh. Why not get the most out of the beneficial relationship of laughing and blood pressure?!

 

How to laugh more to lower your blood pressure

To start off, Dr Peter Spitzer (aka Dr Fruit-Loop), Medical Director of the Humour Foundation recommends the following ways to laugh more:

• Look for opportunities to introduce humour

• Watch comedy DVDs and shows

• Go to comedy clubs…or form your own

• Listen to comedy and laugh whilst driving

• Spend less time with overly serious people

• Spend more time playing

• Connect with funny people

• Visit toy and magic shops

• When all else fails, don’t take yourself too seriously; just take the opportunity to laugh at yourself and enjoy

• Tell your doctor you’re laughing more these days. 

However, what if you’re finding even these suggestions difficult to follow? Or what if you’re able to find your life gently humorous, but are just needing more of those deep belly laughs.  If this is the case, then laughter yoga may be just the thing.

 

Laughter yoga, laughter therapy and laughter clubs

You’re joking, right? Laughter yoga? Actually it’s no joke. And actually, it turns out you don’t even need to find something funny in order to start laughing.

‘Laughter yoga’ or ‘laughter therapy’ was developed by an Indian doctor, Madan Kataria, and works on the principle that the body can’t differentiate between fake and real laughter.

So if you force yourself to laugh, at some point your body takes over and you start laughing for real. The advantage of this is that you don’t need to feel happy or amused to initiate and benefit from a good belly laugh.

Laughter yoga combines body-triggered laughter with deep breathing, and the social contact of being in a group, to get people laughing deeply for extended periods. As well as being healthy, laughter yoga groups or clubs are a lot of fun.

There are now over six thousand laughter clubs (mostly free) in over sixty countries, proving laughter yoga is not something to be taken lightly…

Click here for some links to find (or start) a laughter club near you (scroll down to the “Have a laugh” section): Laughing resources

 

Beyond laughing and blood pressure – there’s more you can do…

Laughing of course is not the only way to lower your blood pressure, although it’s a damn fine start. By the way, that last link to laughing resources, above, contains information on relaxation techniques too. Whether or not you tend to be stressed or anxious, relaxing more deeply is a powerful aspect of lowering blood pressure.

As well as relaxing, there are a lot of other activities you can do to lower your blood pressure. And there are also many many things you can eat and drink which have beneficial blood pressure-reducing effects.

To find out about all of these, have a look at our book – Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

lower your blood pressure naturally with diet, exercise and relaxation - and garlicIt’s a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide to lowering blood pressure the natural way – i.e., without pharmaceutical medications. (Although if you already take these, natural methods of lowering blood pressure can help you lower your blood pressure further.)

Each step leads you through a different set of things you can do to lower your blood pressure. You can just take each step at your own pace – one a week or one a month or more. And gradually bring your blood pressure down and keep it down.

This doesn’t have to involve undue suffering either. It’s not about denial but about introducing good foods, drinks, and enjoyable activities into your life, which will improve your general health and well-being too. You can still drink alcohol and you can eat more dark chocolate.

Click on the picture for more information and/or to buy. You’ll also get a set of audio tracks for guided slow breathing included (slow breathing is actually the quickest way to lower blood pressure without medications)!

 

 

Laughing and blood pressure – references and more information

The Humour Foundation – Laughter Lowers Blood Pressure: https://www.humourfoundation.com.au/resources/seriously-funny-medicine/62-laughter-lowers-blood-pressure.html

Music and laughter and blood pressure – University of Maryland study:
https://umm.edu/news-and-events/news-releases/2008/joyful-music-may-promote-heart-health

Music and laughter and blood pressure – University of Osaka study:
https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20110325/music-and-laughter-may-help-lower-blood-pressure

Laughter and memory: https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/laughter-can-improve-short-term-memory/

Health benefits of laughing – Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/laughing-may-help-ease-blood-pressure-boost-mood-and-enrich-health-in-other-ways/2011/10/18/gIQAq8Y5CM_story.html

Laughing and pain thresholds: https://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/09/19/rspb.2011.1373

Effects of watching comedy videos versus depressing documentaries: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/151941.php

Stress and Hypertension

stress and hypertension

Eggs by Bernard Goldbach on Flickr.com

The link between stress and hypertension is undeniable. The very simple fact is that if you live a high stress life then that fact is probably going to reflect in a higher blood pressure (and probably a shorter life span).

Another thing about stress and stress-related blood pressure is that it’s not always evident. You can be a sufferer of stress and not even realize it. Stress builds up slowly in the dark recesses of your nervous system over the course of years. What feels ‘normal’ to you may actually be a stressful existence.

But stress doesn’t affect us all equally. Some of us can get away with a lot more stress than others when it comes to blood pressure and health in general. I’m not one of those people and stress will always show up in my blood pressure, so I’ve had to take remedies to reduce stress.

 

How to reduce stress and hypertension?

That’s easier said than done. Wanting to reduce stress and actually accomplishing it are two different things. You can’t ‘think’ your stress levels down (in fact, that’s a bit of a mental trap) – you have to DO something.

If you suffer from stress and high blood pressure you want to get the levels of both your stress and hypertension down.

Go for a wee walk

To start, take a walk, preferably in nature, like a path through the woods or your local park if you have one nearby. Get away from loud mechanical noises like cars if possible. The tranquility of nature can be very soothing for your nerves – there are actually psychological studies proving this now, although probably most of us already know it.

(Click here for an article on Walking to lower blood pressure.)

Try Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation

Doing physical practices like Yoga andTai Chi are also good for reducing stress and hypertension – they are calming and grounding, so they’re effective at lowering stress, but they’re also aerobic physical exercise so help lower blood pressure that way too.

Meditation is another practice that’s becoming more popular as more studies show how beneficial it is for managing stress and difficult emotions. In fact, meditating regularly is good for your brain and body in multiple ways, including helping lower blood pressure.

Acupuncture has also been noted as good for reducing stress and lowering blood pressure – although I haven’t tried that myself.

Take a deep breath…

Another increasingly popular way to reduce stress and blood pressure is slow breathing. Studies now unequivocally show that breathing slowly for a few minutes can bring your blood pressure down almost instantly. This is particularly good to know in stressful situations when we tend to tense up and breathe more quickly. Remembering to take a few slow breaths when you’re stressed will not only take the edge of your stress levels and help you think more clearly but will also be reducing your blood pressure.

Of course, the moment you start breathing quickly, it’ll shoot back up again. That’s why it’s best to practice slow breathing for ten to fifteen minutes every day. There’s two benefits to this. The first is that the more you practice slow breathing, the more you’ll be able to do it at will when difficult situations arise. The second is that studies also suggest that regular slow breathing will bring your blood pressure down over the long-term, as well as in the immediate moments of slow breathing.

You can read more about it on our sister website here: How slow breathing lowers blood pressure

How to do slow breathing to lower stress and hypertension

So how do you do it?

Well, you just sit down comfortably and breathe slowly for fifteen minutes. For some people that’s straightforward. For others, it can be difficult to keep remembering to keep your breathing slow, and to keep breathing at an even rate. Actually, it can be surprisingly tricky!

High Street chemists here in the UK are now selling a special machine called ‘Resperate‘ which assists you in calming down the system through slow, regulated breathing. These machines aren’t cheap – selling for around £100 + – but they do seem to be effective.

Personally I listen to audio recordings to do stress-reducing slow breathing exercises. They have prompts which guide you to keep your breathing at a certain rate. I used to use the BreathEasy tapes but now they’re not available, I’ve created my own guided slow breathing audio recordings.

You can listen to samples here: Breathe Slow sound samples (and the full set of recordings are available to purchase).

Just following along for 15 minutes a day helps restore sanity into my life, relaxes my nervous system, and helps keep my blood pressure withing healthy ranges.

Have a laughlaugh to lower blood pressure

And there’s also laughter therapy! Yes, simple laughing – deep, belly laughing that is, not mere chuckles – can do wonders for your stress levels and blood pressure. Read more here: Laughing to reduce stress and hypertension

Making time for yourself and other ways to reduce stress and hypertension

As well as practicing specific methods and techniques, there are ordinary things you can do more of that can help you stay relaxed and happy. A reader sent me her blog post on stress reduction which is worth a read, here: 5 Amazing Ways to Get Rid of Stress

There are also lots of links and resources to do with stress reduction (on this website) here: Dealing with stress and hypertension 

 

Other causes of high blood pressure

Mind you, stress isn’t the only factor that can cause high blood pressure. There’s also poor diet, lack of exercise, and genetics that can contribute to hypertension. Thankfully all these factors can be dealt with. Of course you can’t change your genetic code but adopting a healthy blood pressure lifestyle can counteract any genetic propensities towards developing high blood pressure you may have inherited.

But stress remains a central contributing factor with most people with hypertension. You’ll want to reduce stress in your life one way or the other. Too much stress can cause all sorts of health complications later on in life.

Life stress-free. Live happy. Live healthy.

 

Slow breathing to reduce stress and hypertension: more information

Breathe SlowAs I mentioned above, I’ve created (with the help of a musician and sound engineer) a full set of slow breathing audio recordings.

You can choose between tracks with different numbers of breaths per minute so you can find the pace that suits you. You can also work through different tracks in order to practice breathing more slowly over time. For example, you can start at 10 breaths per minute and work your way down to 6 breaths per minute for even deeper relaxation and blood pressure reduction.

The audio tracks also come with different kinds of background music (because not everyone’s tastes are the same, and variety is good!). There are also tracks with breathing prompts only in case you prefer that, or want to play your own background music.

You can download them as mp3s, which you can then transfer to any device you want to listen to (computer, laptop, mp3 player, etc).

I should also mention that at the moment I’m giving away a free copy of my book when you buy the audio tracks: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

It’s an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide to lowering your blood pressure through simple and tasty changes in what you eat and drink, and through various exercises and activities.

There’s also a lot more information and tips on ways to relax and lower your stress levels. So it really is an all-in-one guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally, and is a perfect complement to the slow breathing audio tracks!

Click here for more information: Breathe-Slow.com

The Best Natural Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure

It’s well established by now that the main causes of high blood pressure – in terms of lifestyle, that is – are diet, fitness, and stress. In other words, if you’re eating and drinking the ‘wrong’ things, not being active enough, and being over-stressed, then you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure. And if you already have high blood pressure, then all these things are probably making it worse – or at least, not helping your blood pressure levels.

So it follow that the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure are to change what you eat and drink, your activity levels and your stress levels.

Easier said than done, right? Well, yes. However, using the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure doesn’t have to be an uphill struggle. Depending on your lifestyle just now, you may only have to adjust a few things to see effects on your blood pressure. Or you may have to change your day-to-day life quite dramatically.

Even in the latter case though, you can still take it gradually and make small alterations bit by bit. That’s usually the best way to change anything anyway – not only are you more likely to stick with a different way of doing things if you do it gradually, but it’s also easier for your body (and your brain!) to get used to the change.

 

The best natural ways to lower your blood pressure 1: eat and drink well

First of all, let’s look at what you eat and drink. One of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure is to stop – or drastically reduce – the amount of processed foods and drinks you eat. That doesn’t just mean ready-made microwave meals and soft drinks but anything that’s processed – pastries, pies, cakes, breads, breakfast cereals, pasta sauces, condiments and salad dressings, even many canned foods.

Before you start to panic, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat pies, breads, pasta sauce etc, but simply that you’re better to make them yourself, or look for versions that contain very few and very simple ingredients.

The main ingredients you’re trying to avoid are added sugar and added salt. Salt is easier to spot on food labels – salt or sodium (or MSG, monosodium glutamate – terrible for blood pressure).

However, avoiding added sugar is equally if not more important than watching out for salt. Most people know by now that too much salt is likely to raise your blood pressure. However, it’s not such common knowledge that too much sugar will do the same. And what counts as too much sugar is not much!

Added sugars are the problem here (natural sugars such as those in fruit don’t affect your blood pressure in the same way). However, it can be hard to know whether a processed food contains added sugar as it goes by many different names, e.g., cane juice, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, maltose, malt syrup, the list goes on.

best natural ways to lower your blood pressure - eat welSo it’s easier to avoid processed foods altogether and either make it yourself or buy freshly made products from local stores – e.g., wholegrain bread from your local baker is a healthier option than mass-produced bread from a supermarket. And a bowl of wholegrain oats (with nuts, seeds, a little honey) is far better than a sugar-coated breakfast cereal. Even commercial granola bars are packed with sugar so make your own granola or muesli. That way you can have it exactly how you like it too.

Other food and drink tips:

  • don’t worry about a low-fat diet but eat plenty unsaturated fats – e.g. those in olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, oily fish like salmon and mackerel
  • eat whole grain products rather than refined grain produces – so replace white bread with wholegrain bread, regular pasta with wholegrain pasta, white rice with brown rice etc.
  • eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits – try and eat different colours in a day too to get the full range of beneficial plant nutrients
  • watch how much coffee you drink as it may be affecting your blood pressure more than you realize – try more tea – green tea, herbal tea – hibiscus tea has particular BP-lowering effects
  • also cut out sodas, soft drinks, sports drinks – go for coconut water which is rehydrating and can help lower blood pressure, or smoothies containing vegetables as well as fruits
  • a bit of booze may actually help your heart and blood pressure but, of course, too much is very harmful – sticking to a drink or two a day at most is probably best

(Many more food and drink tips in our guide to lowering blood pressure naturally, below)

 

The best natural ways to lower your blood pressure 2: get moving

Exercise is undoubtedly one of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure, strengthen your heart and improve your health in general. What’s called aerobic exercise is what you want to do – exercise that gets your heart beating harder and lungs working harder (enough so that you’re still able to speak short sentences but are a bit too much out of breath to talk for too long at a stretch).

Going for a brisk walk first thing or when you get home from work/your day’s busy-ness, is one straightforward way to be more active. Cycling is great too. In fact, anything which gets you moving – hoovering, gardening, sex, DIY.

You can also do handgrip exercises daily and they don’t even involve getting out of your chair. They aren’t a replacement for good aerobic exercise but they are one of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure. More details here: handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure

 

The best natural ways to lower your blood pressure 3: relax….

The third of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure is to relax more. Yep, even if you don’t have a fast-paced high-adrenaline lifestyle, you might still be finding yourself feeling tense, tired and stressed too much of the time. Actually, even feeling stressed a little bit of the time can have detrimental effects on your blood pressure.

There are many ways you can reduce your stress levels. Many people recommend taking up traditional practices such as yoga and meditation, and there are yoga and meditation classes and drop-in groups in many towns and cities these days.

One of the newer techniques is laughter therapy – read about it here, and if you can find a group near you, go for it because it sounds like great fun!  High blood pressure? Laugh it off

best natural ways to lower your blood pressure - relaxOne of the simplest and most effective things you can do though is to make time every day for a period of slow breathing. There’s a lot of research now that shows this to be one of the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure and the quickest.

Slow breathing will lower your blood pressure within minutes – so it’s a good skill to have when you’re in a stressful situation. But doing it regularly will also lower your general blood pressure levels in the long-term. You can read more about it here, and also find some audio tracks which you can breathe along to: slow breathing

 

That’s just a quick run-through to start off with. There’s a lot more information on all of these topics on this website. You can use the search bar in the top left to search the website.

You can also have a look at our guide to the best natural ways to lower your blood pressure: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

 

The best natural ways to lower your blood pressure – all in one book!

This guide goes through everything I’ve talked about in this post but more thoroughly and in far more detail. You’ll find everything you need to know about the best foods and drinks for lowering your blood pressure (as well as avoiding the bad stuff, there are also lots of foods and drinks which will actively help lower your blood pressure).

There’s also a lot more about easy ways to be more active and how to incorporate exercise into your everyday life. And there’s information about many different approaches to stress reduction and just being more at ease in general.

lower your blood pressure naturallyNow, that’s quite a lot to be getting on with. But to keep it simple, the guide is laid out in 9 straightforward steps. You just follow the advice for each step – take it a week at a time or a month at a time, whatever suits you – and you’ll be on your way to lower blood pressure and better health in general.

Not only is the guide easy to follow but it’s also enjoyable to follow, with lots of tasty food and drink suggestions, and useful tips and insights on lifestyle changes. Little things that – put together – can make a big difference.

Lowering your blood pressure naturally doesn’t have to be hard!

To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.
(Post by Alison)

Image credits: vegetables – Peyri Herrera, girl meditating – Caleb Roenigk, both via Flickr.com

How a Nap Can Lower Your Blood Pressure

how a nap can lower your blood pressureGood news for those who like to cat nap – a new study suggests that taking a regular nap can lower your blood pressure. So if you have high blood pressure, it’s high time to get in the siesta habit.

Here’s the details. A recent study by researchers at a hospital in Athens, Greece looked at almost 400 middle-aged men and women who had high blood pressure, some of whom were in the habit of taking midday naps.

Those who had a nap around midday had lower blood pressure later in the day and also at night, when asleep, compared to those who didn’t have a nap at all.

Specifically, those who napped had blood pressure that was, on average, 4% lower than the non-nappers during the day; and 6% lower than the non-nappers when asleep at night. (This effect was found after adjusting for other health and lifestyle factors that might affect blood pressure, such as age, exercise, coffee intake, smoking.)

This makes an average of 5% lower blood pressure in those who regularly took a daily nap – not a huge amount but enough to definitely reduce your risk of a heart attack, according to the researchers. (All these percentages refer to systolic blood pressure – the pressure when your heart beats (compared to diastolic, the blood pressure between heart beats).)

Plus, other indicators of heart health were also better in the nappers.

 

A nap a day goes a long way to lower blood pressure

This is not the only study to find a link between daytime naps and better blood pressure and heart health. An older study which followed 23,000 Greeks found that those who took a daily nap were 37% less likely to die from a heart attack, compared to those who never napped. Even those who just took occasional naps were 12% less likely to die of a heart attack.

Other studies which have taken people into the lab have had similar results. For example, a study done by a college in Pennsylvania had students do a ‘stressful’ mental arithmetic task. Those who were allowed an hour’s nap afterwards subsequently had lower blood pressure, on average, than those who hadn’t napped.

Although the students didn’t suffer from high blood pressure, the results did support that daytime naps can lower blood pressure after some kind of stressful situation.

 

How long to nap to lower your blood pressure

It seems clear that taking a daytime nap, if you can, can benefit your blood pressure, and the health of your heart in general. But how long should you nap for?

In the Greek study, longer naps – of up to an hour – were associated with the biggest reductions in blood pressure.

Dr Kallistratos said: ‘Our study shows that not only is midday sleep associated with lower blood pressure, but longer sleeps are even more beneficial.”

“We found that midday sleep is associated with lower 24 hour blood pressure, an enhanced fall of blood pressure at night and less damage to the arteries and the heart. The longer the midday sleep, the lower the systolic blood pressure levels and probably fewer drugs [are] needed to lower blood pressure.”

 

And get a good night’s sleep

The Greek researchers do mention that it’s very difficult, for the average working person to be able to take a nap. And if you’re reading this article, in an English-speaking country, it’s likely you’re living in a place where siestas are not the norm!

However, if you really can’t fit in a daytime nap, then make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night. Some statistics suggest that people in Western societies are getting on average 2 hours less sleep a night than they did fifty years ago. And this is serious news because not getting enough sleep is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart problems.

Read more about sleep and blood pressure in our post here:
effects of sleep on blood pressure.

Conversely, if you have trouble getting enough sleep at night, all the more reason to nap in the daytime if you can because it seems to be able to make up for some of the negative effects on your blood pressure of lack of sleep.

A study done in the UK at John Moores University in Liverpool illustrated this. The researchers had 9 people come into the lab for several sessions, after only having had four hours sleep the night before. In different sessions, they would rest for an hour either lying down and sleeping, or lying down and staying awake, or standing up (awake!).

Their blood pressure went down only during the sessions when they slept, and actually went down just as they were beginning to fall asleep. Now, this study is not particularly representative of real-life high blood pressure sufferers as the volunteers (all nine of them) did not have high blood pressure. However, it does suggest that a nap can help compensate for not getting much sleep the night before.

If you need further convincing, keep in mind that napping also has other benefits for your mind and memory, and will generally improve your concentration for the rest of the day.

 

Napping Tips: How to nap to lower your blood pressure

 

  • find a dark place, or wear an eye mask, and that’s quiet
  • lie down if you can, rather than try to nap sitting up
  • set an alarm if you’re concerned about waking up at a certain time so that you can drift off without worry – but allow yourself a good few minutes after your nap to wake up fully without rushing yourself
  • clear your mind and allow yourself to properly switch off for a while (if you’re finding it hard to let go of all the things you feel you ‘should’ be doing, remind yourself that a nap now will make you more productive later…)

 

Being well-rested and other ways to lower blood pressure

Whether or not you can fit in a daily nap, generally being well-rested will go a long way to helping lower your blood pressure. Our guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally contains a lot of handy tips on how to sneak in more breaktimes, and ways to ensure you’re getting good quality sleep at night.

However, rest and relaxation is just one aspect of lowering high blood pressure. What you eat and drink and how active you are (and how you are active) are also crucial to healthy blood pressure.

lower your blood pressure naturallyAll these factors work together, so the best way to lower your blood pressure without drugs is to apply a broad approach – covering all causes and cures with natural home-based remedies.

This might sound daunting, especially if you’re just starting out on this route to better blood pressure but actually these changes can be incorporated quite easily into your everyday life.

The question is knowing what to do and figuring out how and when to do it. So to make it simple, we’ve put together a complete guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

The guide is laid out in 9 straightforward steps. You just follow the advice for each step – take it a week at a time or a month at a time, whatever suits you – and you’ll be on your way to lower blood pressure and better health in general.

Not only is the guide easy to follow but it’s also enjoyable to follow, with lots of tasty food and drink suggestions, and useful tips and insights on lifestyle changes. Little things that – put together – can make a big difference.

Lowering your blood pressure naturally doesn’t have to be hard!

To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.

– – – – –
Post by Alison.
Image credit: Trish Hamme via Flickr.com

Some references:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11831863/A-nap-a-day-could-save-your-life-research-suggests.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/a-nap-a-day-could-save-your-life-10478315.html

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20150829/Midday-naps-linked-to-reduced-blood-pressure-levels-fewer-antihypertensive-medications.aspx

https://www.examiner.com/article/lower-blood-pressure-with-an-afternoon-nap

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110228105308.htm

https://www.the-aps.org/mm/hp/Audiences/Public-Press/Archive/07/55.html

High Blood Pressure? Just Laugh It Off

Laughter Lowers Blood Pressure, Funnily Enough…

Laughter lowers blood pressure. This is not only amusing but true! Actually, when you start laughing, it raises your blood pressure a little. However, if you keep laughing – deeply, from your belly – and you do this often – then laughter lowers your blood pressure.laughter lowers blood pressure

How do we know this? Well, a couple of medical studies have tried to find out how laughter lowers blood pressure by making people watch comedy videos or documentaries. While folk were watching the videos, various aspects of their circulatory functioning were being assessed.

In the first study, the researchers found that after watching a comedy video, “arterial compliance” in people’s carotid artery was improved.

What’s that? The carotid artery is the blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the head and “arterial compliance” basically means that there is better blood flow. And this generally means lower blood pressure.

The second study measured the dilation of the blood vessels. It found that while watching comedy videos, people’s blood vessels dilated (i.e., expanded). On the other hand, after watching depressing documentaries, their blood vessels constricted. Generally speaking, the more your blood vessels dilate, the lower your blood pressure.

According to Takashi Tarumi, lead researcher on the study, “Not only did comedies improve vascular dilation, but watching a documentary about a depressing subject was actually harmful to the blood vessels. These documentaries constricted blood vessels by about 18 percent.”

 

Don’t watch depressing documentaries!

Yes, it’s true – watching “sombre” documentaries can raise your blood pressure. That’s not to say that you need to try to avoid all stressful or disturbing experiences. But simply make sure there’s time for some laughter and relaxation in your life.

Laughter is a great release for the body and for the mind. So get into comedy videos if you can find some that make you laugh. Or go and watch a comedian live. Or hang out more with friends that make you laugh.

This can be seriously helpful for lowering your blood pressure. This is because laughter lowers blood pressure not only while you’re laughing but afterwards too. As the lead researcher of the first study (Jun Sugawara) noted:

“Arterial compliance was improved for a full 24 hours after subjects watched a funny movie. Laughing is likely not the complete solution to a healthy heart, but it appears to contribute to positive effects.”

 

More ways in which laughter lowers blood pressure

More and more research shows that having a good laugh not only lightens your load mentally but also improves your physical state. The studies above found that laughing improves the functioning of your blood vessels, helping to alleviate high blood pressure. And there are other ways in which laughter lowers blood pressure. For example, laughing lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone. At the same time it increases your production of endorphins – hormones that boost your mood, your pain threshold and your immune system and even your memory.

And if you laugh regularly, these effects can last in the long-term.

You can read more about how laughter lowers blood pressure on our post here: Laughing and blood pressure

 

How to have more laughter to lower blood pressure!

So find ways to bring more laughter into your life. You can even join a laughing group. ‘Laughter yoga’, as it’s called, is becoming increasingly popular as a way to reduce stress, heal the body, and just have a really good time.

The fact is that laughing is an effective stress reduction strategy – and that’s no laughing matter 🙂

*

Husband has got into health food recently and yells at the wife as she’s on her way to the greengrocer – “MAKE SURE IT’S ORGANIC!”

So the wife asks the clerk at the greengrocer – “Are these all organic?”, pointing to the shelves of vegetables on display.

New at the job the young clerk responds – “I’m not sure. What do you mean by ‘organic’?”

Loosing her patience the wife responds – “Listen, I’m buying for my husband and I need to know – HAVE THESE VEGETABLES BEEN SPRAYED WITH POISON?

“Oh no,” replied the clerk, “you have to do that yourself.”

 

Lower your blood pressure naturally

As well as laughing, there are a lot of other things you can do to lower your blood pressure and keep it low without having to rely on medications.

For a start, there is a large choice of affordable natural ingredients that lower blood pressure. Many of these spices, herbs, berries, fruits, grains, vegetables, meats and drinks are available in local stores.

Of course there are other factors beyond diet (like fitness and stress) that affects your blood pressure. So the best way to lower your blood pressure without drugs is to apply a broader approach – covering all causes and cures with natural home-based remedies.

lower your blood pressure naturallyThe guide contains simple and proven strategies for lowering your blood pressure and keeping it low through easy, effective and enjoyable changes in lifestyle.

These progressive steps are based on the principle that positive incremental change is always best in health matters.

Each chapter will take you further along the road of greater vigour and peace of mind (and a healthy blood pressure).

Click on the link below for more information:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally Guide

 

P.S. This guide shows you how to lower your blood pressure permanently and naturally without side-effects or complications.

Follow each step to get your blood pressure back in balance.

Choose between a wide range of delicious foods that reduce your blood pressure. Include a number of mental and physical exercises in your schedule for both relaxation and invigoration.

Following this guide will reduce, and in time, eliminate your need for blood pressure lowering medications.

This is a guide for good healthy living and will be beneficial for all – even if you don’t currently suffer from high blood pressure.

To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.

 

Laughter lowers blood pressure: references and more information

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/151941.php

https://www.humourfoundation.com.au/resources/seriously-funny-medicine/62-laughter-lowers-blood-pressure.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/laughing-may-help-ease-blood-pressure-boost-mood-and-enrich-health-in-other-ways/2011/10/18/gIQAq8Y5CM_story.html

Effects of sleep on blood pressure

effects of sleep on blood pressureWe all know that we get grumpy and irritable when we’re not getting enough sleep (okay, I do anyway). But the effects of not getting adequate sleep can be more subtle than that.

For example, did you know that how much sleep you get – and how well you sleep – can affect your blood pressure?

 

The effects of sleep on blood pressure

The effects of sleep on blood pressure can be quite profound. In fact, several studies over the past decade have found a link between poor sleep quality and quantity and higher blood pressure.

For example, one study that followed hundreds of early-middle-aged people for six years found that when they got less sleep (less than 7 or 8 hours), or didn’t sleep well, they were more likely to have higher blood pressure. Their statistics showed that roughly each hour of sleep that was ‘missed’ equated to a third greater risk of having high blood pressure.

Other studies have found similar effects. There are many factors responsible for the effects of sleep on blood pressure. For one thing, sleep is important for processing stress hormones. So not getting enough good sleep can lead to lingering high levels of stress hormones, which can increase inflammation in the body (which is implicated in high blood pressure and many other health problems), and narrow the arteries, increasing blood pressure.

(UPDATE, April 2016: A study at the University of Helsinki, Finland, has found that insufficient sleep also affects cholesterol metabolism, resulting in lower levels of high-density lipoproteins (the “good” cholesterol that your body needs). This explains why even mild sleep deprivation is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis.)

As well as the effects of sleep on blood pressure, not enough good sleep is also linked with greater risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, as well as cancer, depression, and memory and concentration problems. So it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough.

 

How much sleep do I need?

Scientists generally consider that 7-8 hours a night of sleep is what most people need for our bodies to do all the things they need to do during sleep.

Even if you know you can manage on less sleep, your body may not be coping as well as you think, and adverse effects on your health can quietly be building up.

However, the effects of sleep on blood pressure are not just to do with how much we sleep but also when we sleep.

 

When we sleep – and its effects on blood pressure

Our body clocks, over millennia, are ‘programmed’ for sleeping at night, during hours of darkness. However, our society and working culture tends to place different demands on us, such that many of us now find it difficult to go to bed after sunset and wake with the dawn.

Having a good ‘power nap’ during the day can certainly help, but napping or sleeping at other times isn’t enough to compensate for lack of sleep at night.

Shift workers are most obviously affected, but any of us who find ourselves too busy or stressed to unwind and get a good night’s sleep are potentially placing a great strain on our body.

In fact, scientists are becoming extremely concerned with the increasing restrictions on sleep that modern society places on us, and the effects of sleep on blood pressure that result.

Scientists from Harvard University in the US, and Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester and Surrey Universities in the UK recently went so far as to warn that our society is “supremely arrogant” when it comes to dismissing the importance of sleep.

 

Screen dreams – or nightmares?

Another issue affecting our sleep in recent years is the prevalance of brightly lit screens in our lives – computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.

Light is what synchronises our body clock, so light at night can disrupt our natural sleep cycle. The problem is that the type of light that our electronic devices emit (in the blue end of the light spectrum) is exactly the kind of light that will disrupt our body clock. Energy-efficient light bulbs can have a similar effect.

According to Prof Charles Czeisler, from Harvard University, “Light exposure, especially short wavelength blue-ish light in the evening, will reset our circadian rhythms to a later hour, postponing the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin and making it more difficult for us to get up in the morning.

“It’s a big concern that we’re being exposed to much more light, sleeping less and, as a consequence, may suffer from many chronic diseases.”

 

Can I reduce the effects of sleep on blood pressure?

The effects of sleep on blood pressure are biological, so there’s not much you can do to change the actual effects of sleep on blood pressure.

However, as we’ve seen, how much you sleep, how you sleep and when you sleep can be seriously affected by our lifestyles – so if you make a few changes, you can give yourself a good chance of getting better sleep and thus make sure the effects of sleep on blood pressure are good effects!

UPDATE: Research now shows that having a noontime nap is linked with lower blood pressure, and that this can help compensate for not getting enough sleep at night. So if you can make time for a little siesta, do so. More details here: how a nap can lower your blood pressure

 

How to get a good night’s sleep

So what can you do? Well, one of the most important things is to establish a regular rhythm as to when you go to bed and get up. This helps your body regulate itself effectively, and get into a good sleeping pattern.

Another thing is to look at your sleeping conditions. Having your room well-aired, and not too hot or too cold, and as dark as possible, and of course quiet, all go a long way to helping you settle into deep sleep once you do fall asleep.

You can also take a look at how you spend your evening, particularly the last hour or two before bed. Avoid alcohol, nicotine (and of course, caffeine), and big meals too close to bedtime as these can keep you up or lead to unsettled sleep. A cup of relaxing herbal tea can help you unwind instead. And it can be helpful to get into a nice routine before, or as, you get ready for bed, to help you gradually switch off from your concerns and get in the mood for sleep.

And last, but absolutely not least – turn off your laptops, smartphones, iPads etc.,  well before you go to bed – most scientists recommend having at least one hour before bed that’s screen-free. As one scientist, Dr Lipman, puts it, have “an electronic sundown.” You’ll probably find this makes it easier for your mind to wind down before bed as well.

And your body will certainly thank you.

 

More ways to lower your blood pressure naturally

You can find out a lot more about how to get yourself into a good regular sleeping pattern in our guide:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

Step 9 of the guide looks at the effects of sleep on blood pressure. However, there are many other factors (like diet, fitness and stress) that affect your blood pressure.

So if you want to lower your blood pressure (without having to take blood pressure-lowering medications), the best way is to apply a broad approach, using natural home-based remedies to cover all possible causes.effects of sleep on blood pressure

This guide will help you do that. It contains simple and proven strategies to lower your blood pressure and keep it low through easy, effective and enjoyable changes in lifestyle.

It takes you through these in nine easy-to-follow steps. These progressive steps are based on the principle that positive incremental change is always best in health matters, and each chapter will take you further along the road of greater vigour and peace of mind (and a healthy blood pressure).

Choose between a wide range of delicious foods that reduce your blood pressure. Include a number of mental and physical exercises in your schedule for both relaxation and invigoration (including plenty tips on sleeping soundly).

To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.

– – –

Post by Alison. (Image credit: peasap via flickr.com)

 

Some references:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/02/secrets-to-a-good-night-sleep.aspx

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/christiane-northrup/sleep-a-surprising-way-to_b_431845.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27286872

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/uoh-sld042116.php

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14446604.Study_links_lack_of_sleep_to_development_of_cardiovascular_disease/

 

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally: Step 9

natural ways to lower blood pressure

This page is a companion to Step 9 of our book – Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide – out now for just $27 (about £17)

Relax..

Dealing with Stress

There are myriad on-line resources for helping you deal with stress, so search around. Here are a few articles to start you off:

Web MD –  Life stress and easing it

Web MD – More relaxation techniques

 

HOW TO RELAX: TECHNIQUES TO REDUCE STRESS

 

Slow Breathing

Resperate slow breathing aid

Resperate – Amazon.co.uk

Resperate – Amazon. com

Slow breathing exercise audio tracks available for download

Breathe Slow Audio Tracks

 

Meditation

There are many resources on-line for meditation too – tips on meditation, guided meditations – and for a range of different approaches to meditation. It won’t be hard to find one that suits you.

About Meditation

How to Meditate – good overview of different types of meditation, its benefits, and how to do it (jenreviews.com)

How to Meditate: Easy Meditation Techniques for Beginners to Meditate Properly (SoMuchYoga.com)

How to Meditate by Sam Harris – introduction to non-religious meditation

Wikipedia – Research on meditation

Meditation tips

Psychology Today – Meditation tips for beginners

Guided Meditations

Guided meditation audio tracks are available to play here:

Guided meditations by Sam Harris – a short one (9 mins) and a longer one

Buddhanet – Guided meditation – scroll down for ‘Guided Meditations with Malcolm Huxter’ – simple, down-to-earth meditations with various different slants, from simple body-focused or breath-focused meditations to ones specifically designed to calm difficult emotions and stress – you’re sure to find one that suits you.

More also on: Fragrant heart – Guided meditation for stress relief

There’s also a meditation app – with all kinds of guided meditations for different circumstances and situations. Although we haven’t tried it ourselves yet, it has been highly recommended by others: Headspace

 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Body Scanning

Here are some links for audio guides to progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). Or just search online, have a wee listen and go for the one whose voice you like best.

Malcolm Huxter – Guided PMR

If you like the Malcolm Huxter one, click here for more guided meditations from him (“body scan” is a simpler version of PMR):

Buddhanet – Guided meditation – scroll down for ‘Guided Meditations with Malcolm Huxter’

 

Yoga

Overview of different types of yoga:
Verywell.com – yoga types

Yoga resources, including videos, online classes, articles:
Yoga.com

 

Have a Laugh

A bit about laughter therapy:
Laughter therapy – Guardian article
Laughter Online University – free laughter resources
Laughter Yoga International

Laughter clubs:
Meetup.com – laughter Clubs
Laughter Yoga America
Laughter Online University – Community Laughter Clubs
World Laughter Tour – clubs

 

Be Well Rested

Take breaks

Good tips on effective ways to take and time breaks:

This is a great article on when, why and how to take breaks at work:
Wikihow – Take breaks at work

Some good stretches you can do in the office or at home:
Mayo Clinic – stretches

A fantastic poster you can print out or look at to remind you of ’50 ways to take a break’:
Take a break poster!

 

Have a nap!

More and more research is now showing that taking a daily midday nap is linked with lower blood pressure and better heart health. Napping for up to an hour a day seems to be best, but even if you can’t manage a nap every day, taking a nap even occasionally may help.

Read more here: how a nap can lower your blood pressure

 

Sleep

Detailed and comprehensive tips on getting a good night’s sleep:
Mercola.com – Secrets to a good night’s sleep

 

Other things which reduce stress

Think about how you think

There are a wealth of self-help resources online with psychological tips and guidance on dealing with stress, as well as information on finding a psychologist or therapist if you think you could benefit from more one-on-one advice or support.

Below is information on a few tried and tested approaches which have been successfully used to reduce stress, including Cognitive Behavour Therapy and Mindfulness approaches to stress reduction.

This free e-book may also be a good starting point. It’s a 17 page report which identifies 7 ways of thinking and acting that make us likely to feel stressed, then goes on to suggest ways to overcome these stress-inducing approaches and take a more relaxing attitude towards yourself, life and living.

Just click here to download it for free: 7 Mistakes that Lead to Stress

 

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

About CBT:
Patient.co.uk – about CBT

CBT self-help resources:
Self Help CBT (this section is specifically about stress: Self Help – CBT and stress)

Mood gym:
Mood Gym

‘Mood gym’ is an online interactive program created by the Australian National University to help you identify and understand the way you perceive and react to situations. It’s designed to help those suffering from stress, anxiety and/or depression, but will be useful for anyone wanting to gain more insight into the workings of their mind – and particularly, how our unconscious assumptions affect our perceptions and thus our behaviour – and how these can be changed!

You have to set up an account to use it but don’t have to provide any personal information (not even your real name). It’s based on the principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and is interesting and easy to use – and they have 750, 000 users so far, so it’s pretty popular.

CBT practitioners and services:

UK:
CBT therapist.com

US:
Academy of CT

US and Canada:
CBT Assocation

Australia:
CBT Australia

 

Mindfulness approaches to stress reduction

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program developed at the University of Massachusetts:
Wikipedia – MBSR
University of Massachusetts – MBSR

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is similar to CBT in some ways but draws from mindfulness approaches in focusing more on accepting our difficult experiences, emotions and reactions rather than changing them – based on the sense that it’s lack of acceptance of our experiences and ourselves that can be at the root of a lot of our stress.

This article is quite in-depth, but does have good summaries of the main elements of ACT:
Psychology Today – ACT

If you’re interested in the basics of ACT, this book could be useful:
ACT Made Simple – Amazon.com

 

A quick pep talk!

For a quick mood boost, you could always try this – an ‘instant peptalk’ app !

It’s from a website for ‘self help for people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing self-help’ and is a free app you can download to a smartphone or tablet which gives you an ‘instant peptalk’ or motivating poster. Could be worth a try!

 

Eating (and drinking) well
Mood-boosting foods?

This is a complex issue and many sources online give conflicting advice. The main elements of the debate are summarised in the Step 9 Appendix, but here are a few more resources so you can investigate further yourself.

Columbia University (US) – Go Ask Alice – an informal and balanced overview of the interactions between serotonin levels, food and how we feel

WebMD – Food, Mood and Serotonin – a brief summary of food, mood and serotonin

Psychology Today – Carbohydrates and Serotonin – thorough explanation of how food affects serotonin production, following with advice on how this affects weight gain and loss

Mark’s Daily Apple – serotonin boosters –  one man’s take on foods and activities which boost your mood

 

If there are other websites, resources or products you’ve found useful and you think would be useful to others, please email them to us and we’ll include them:
admin@highbloodpressurebegone.com

 

NOTE: We’ve supplied Amazon links to those products that may be a little trickier to find, as Amazon is popular and convenient to use. However, Amazon aren’t known to be the most ethical company (we do not endorse them ourselves) so we recommend buying your healthy products in your local shops if you can!