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Stress and High Blood Pressure

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Can What I Eat Help Fight Stress?

Your body is able to fight stress better when you take the time to eat well-balanced meals. Eat a variety of foods each day, including lean meats, fish or poultry, whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.

Guidelines for Healthy Eating to Fight Stress

  • Eat a wide variety of healthy foods to counteract stress.
  • Eat in moderation -- control the portions of the foods you eat.
  • Reach a healthy weight and maintain it.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Eat food that is high in dietary fiber, such as whole grain cereals, legumes, and vegetables.
  • Minimize your daily fat intake. Choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Limit your consumption of sugar and salt.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine that you drink.
  • Make small changes in your diet over time.
  • Combine healthy eating habits with a regular exercise program.

How Does Sleep Affect My Stress Level?

Lack of sleep can contribute to stress. On the other hand, if you are stressed, you may not be able to get good sleep. Either way, if sleep is a problem, try these tips:  

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Make sure your bed and surroundings are comfortable. Arrange the pillows so you can maintain a comfortable position.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet.
  • Use your bedroom for sleeping only; don't work or watch TV in your bedroom.
  • Avoid napping too much during the day. At the same time, remember to balance activity with rest and recovery.
  • If you feel nervous or anxious, talk to your spouse, partner, or a trusted friend. Get your troubles off your mind.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Do not take sleeping pills before talking to your doctor.
  • Take diuretics or "water pills" earlier, if possible, so you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
  • If you can't sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Don't stay in bed worrying about when you're going to fall asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine but don't exercise within two to three hours of bedtime.
  • If you’ve been told you snore loudly, if you tend to be persistently tired during the day, and especially if you find yourself falling asleep during the day, consider the possibility that you might have sleep apnea. This should be something you discuss with your doctor.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC on May 07, 2012
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