Commonly known as ‘high blood pressure’, hypertension occurs when the pressure of blood flow in your body reaches or exceeds the 130/80 mm Hg limit. The condition generally seems unassuming, considering that hypertension affects 26% of the world’s population. Left unchecked, however, this common condition results in heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide.
It doesn’t help that our daily routines further promote hypertension; the chief contributor being work-related stress. Hypertension is common during work hours as a result of constant pressure, tight deadlines, and a fast-paced workday. All of these factors contribute to daily stress. As a result, your body remains in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight; effectively trapping you in a repetitive cycle of chronic stress.
Eliminate this driving factor, and blood pressure management becomes much easier than before. But how do you find time for it amid your chaotic workday? The following simple rules and tips can help reduce hypertension during work hours, and ensure a productive day at the office:
1. Know The Triggers
The first thing you need to combat stress and hypertension during work hours is to know what triggers it. Identifying potential stress triggers can help you develop an action plan to either resolve or avoid stressful situations, people, or places.
2. Prioritize & Manage Your Workload
Haphazardly going through your workday to try to get everything done will only lead to stress and high blood pressure. Make a habit of planning your day, learn to prioritize your tasks, and identify your limits. This also means learning how to say no when needed.
Also, work on devoting only the required amount of time to a particular task. Divide the times for each assignment, and try your best to complete each within the dedicated time frames. This will not only improve your efficiency during work hours but will also work wonders for your emotional well-being.
3. Learn to Resolve Stressful Situations
Start to speak your mind instead of mentally cataloging every stressful situation and keeping it to yourself. Does a colleague treat you unfairly? Talk to them. Does your manager overburden you? Use your negotiation skills to find a solution that works for you both. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed instead of stressing over it alone.
4. Listen to Soothing Music
If your workplace rules permit, try listening to soothing music while working to calm your nerves and help you focus. In fact, listening to music daily can significantly reduce systolic blood pressure. So play your favorite soft ballads at your desk, or plug into your phone to listen to soothing melodies as you work.
5. Breathe Deeply
The next time you encounter an overwhelming or stressful situation, simply close your eyes and take 6 deep breaths within 30 seconds. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps reduce blood pressure by relaxing the body and slowing the heart rate; among other health benefits.
6. Try The Relaxation Response
Another technique that you can utilize in the face of extreme stress and high-pressure situations is the Relaxation Response. Simply leave your desk for a relatively quieter place in the office, sit, close your eyes, and relax your muscles. Now silently repeat a word or phrase that you find calming over and over for a few seconds. This will ease your mind and body, and help you focus.
Other Things You Can Do to Reduce Workplace Hypertension
While stress is a major contributor to hypertension during work hours, certain other habits and lifestyle factors can also lead to workplace stress. “If not controlled, these factors can lead to an equally increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease development”, according to Dr. Anna Mason in an interview with King Essay.
So, in addition to stress management, here are a few lifestyle changes and tips that can help manage hypertension at work:
1. Take Short Breaks
For every hour of work, make sure to get up, stretch your arms, and walk around the office for 5-10 minutes. Not only will it help refocus your concentration, but regular exercise breaks can help significantly reduce blood pressure and prevent obesity.
There are many other ways that you can incorporate physical activity during work hours. These include:
- Using the stairs
- Walking to work instead of driving, if possible
- Making your own tea/water run
- Going over to your colleagues’ desks instead of communicating via intercom.
2. Avoid Take-outs for Lunch
It may be easier and time-efficient to simply order in for lunch, but this convenience adds unnecessary salt into our already sodium-infused diets. Moreover, most take-out food is also high in refined carbohydrates. Considering that all of these ingredients are a driving factor behind hypertension and heart disease, you would be better off bringing your lunch.
This may require more daily effort, but a home-made meal ensures a more healthful, heart-friendly alternative. Just remember to use fresh ingredients, and try replacing salt with herbs and spices for seasoning.
3. Snack Smart and Fresh
Cutting down on sugary beverages has been proven to help reduce blood pressure. Other sources of added sugar include biscuits, sweetened protein bars, and crisps; snacks that we keep ample stocks of in our desks for a quick energy boost.
So, instead of resorting to sugar-rich foods and beverages, try keeping a jar of nuts and seeds in your desk. Not only are they filling, but they also contain a host of essential vitamins and minerals. Other healthy and convenient snacking options include fruits like bananas, apples, and strawberries, and yogurt.
4. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate
If nuts and fruits aren’t enough, dark chocolate can help satisfy your snack cravings, while also lowering blood pressure. This is because dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which help widen the blood vessels and reduce inflammation. However, make sure that it contains at least 60-70% cacao, and limit yourself to only 1-2 squares of chocolate.
5. Don’t Rely on Your Coffee
You may want to cut back on your three cups a day coffee regime, especially if you are more sensitive to caffeine. Caffeine can cause a 45-60 minute spike in blood pressure in caffeine-sensitive individuals, which can be dangerous over time.
To see whether you’re sensitive to caffeine, follow Dr. Lara Stone’s advice on her website Australian Master: “Check your blood pressure 30 minutes after drinking caffeine. If it increases between 5-10 mm Hg, then you might have to reduce or eliminate caffeine consumption.”
6. No More Smoke Breaks
Once or twice-daily smoke breaks are considered essential to help you get through long, tiring workdays. But this could be doing more harm than good for both your blood pressure and overall bodily functions. In fact, smoking just one cigarette can elevate your blood pressure for far longer than a caffeinated drink. Moreover, the long-term accumulation of tobacco and other chemicals in your lungs damages the blood vessels and narrows the arteries, resulting in chronic hypertension and heart disease.
Chronic hypertension may seem like a frightening diagnosis, but with persistence and above tips, you can ensure full blood pressure control, keeping you active and productive throughout the workday.