Stressful situations can make your blood pressure rise temporarily.
There’s no evidence that stress causes long-term high blood pressure, but feeling stressed over a long time can take its toll on your health, affecting your mood and your body too. If it’s not under control, stress can lead to serious illness including heart disease, so it’s important to find ways to manage it.
How does stress affect your blood pressure?
In a stressful situation, your body reacts by releasing a surge of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the blood. These hormones are responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response. They make your heart beat faster and your blood vessels narrower, raising your blood pressure.
This effect on your blood pressure only lasts a short time. Once the stressful situation is over your blood pressure returns to its usual level.
How does stress affect your overall health?
Feeling stressed for a long time can affect your mood and how well you sleep, and sometimes people take on unhealthy ways of coping, such as smoking, drinking alcohol or eating too much. These can lead to health problems in the future including raised blood pressure, clogged up arteries, heart disease and stroke.
Look out for the early signs of stress, like sweating, loss of appetite, headaches, poor concentration and feeling irritable or worried, so you can see if you need to make changes and find ways to manage it.
If you regularly feel stressed and it’s affecting your life and your happiness, take control by seeing what changes you can make. Finding new ways to manage your time, finding ways to relax, talking to people and exercising regularly can all help. Yoga, mindfulness and meditation exercises can lower your stress levels, even singing and volunteering can help.
To find ideas to suit you, plus audio guides to boost your mood, have a look at the NHS’s One You and NHS Moodzone, visit the charity Mind for information about mental health and StepChange if you have money worries. You can also visit your GP for help dealing with stress.