When it comes to human health, I feel as if most people simply ignore it until it becomes a liability. When people become stressed, they usually ignore it or become frustrated instead of finding a way to deal with or reduce it.
To be honest, I am a person that will ignore stress until it builds and finally boils over. Here is an example of that.
In April 2021, I was assigned with a task of planning an event with some of my classmates at the university which required designing posters and an online social media presence.
The event was called “Sembang Future.”
During the planning of the event I was chosen to be the assistant designer for the project. I stood in and did some of the social media posts on behalf of the lead designer who was “very busy” with other tasks.
It was so stressful combining the jobs of other team members who were absent. I got so sick and had severe muscle pains for days. I was not able to lift my arms up very well and felt as if I had been shot.
After a few days of the pain, I agreed to see a doctor and was immediately informed that not only was I stressed but that my blood pressure was quite high for someone at the age of 18 and closed to getting hypertension.
The doctor then gave me a prescription for the muscle pain and warned me that unless I wanted to be in a hospital bed during a pandemic, I should try to reduce the amount of work that I do.
Luckily, for me, I was eventually able to reduce my work and my stress which gave me the time to complete my other assignments.
Personally, I believe that it should be common sense that getting so stressed that you are close to getting hypertension and nearly getting hospitalised is dangerous and very risky business.
By ignoring it, you are not only playing with your health but your life as well. Stress on its own is bad enough and when you add hypertension into the mix, be well aware that you are not about to have a fun time.
Lets examine stress, its types, symptoms, related health issues and how it is linked to hypertension and vice versa.
Stress can be defined as a feeling that is either emotional or physical tension. It comes from events that can happen in your life or thoughts that generally make you feel upset, angry, frustrated or anxious. It can also be a reaction from your body to challenges or demands.
Interestingly enough, stress can actually be positive, in small amounts, when it comes to helping you avoid deadlines. But when it persists for an extended period of time, it is rather harmful to your health.
One thing to note is that there are two types of stress: Acute stress and Chronic Stress.
Acute stress is short term meaning that it goes away quickly. An example of this would be slamming on the brakes of your car to avoid hitting something or having a close encounter with something dangerous and escaping in time. It is normal and everyone has acute stress form time to time as it only occurs when you do something new or exciting.
On the other hand, Chronic stress tends to last for a longer period of time. You tend to have this if you have certain troubles in your life that can’t go away such as an unhappy marriage.
Chronic stress lasts for weeks and months and it is so easy to become used to it that you won’t even register it as a problem. This stress always leads to health issues
Another thing to note about stress is that it displays warning signs in the form of physical and emotional symptoms. At times, you might not even realise that the symptoms are caused by stress.
Below are a few symptoms of stress that can manifest:
• Stiff Jaw or neck
• Lack of energy/focus
• Trouble sleeping or too much sleeping
• Upset stomach
• Hair loss
• Frequent aches or pains in the muscles or chest
• Weight loss or gain
• Usage of drugs or alcohol to relax
• Sexual Difficulties
When you are stressed, your body reacts to it by releasing hormones that can make your brain to be more alert, cause your muscles to tense up and increase your pulse.
These reactions are good when it has to do with Acute Stress as it helps you to deal with the situation that is causing you stress because your body is protecting itself.
When you are dealing with chronic stress, your body remains alert even when there is no stress and, over time, leaves you at risk for health problems including:
High blood pressure (Hypertension)
Skin problems(acne, eczema)
Stress can cause hypertension through a repetition of blood pressure elevations as well as a stimulation of the nervous systems which produces large amounts of hormones which constrict that blood vessels and increase blood pressure.
While stress is not a direct cause of hypertension, it does have an effect on it and can eventually lead to the development of hypertension.
Regardless, there are quite a few non-pharmalogical treatments that can be used in managing stress that have been proven effective in reducing one’s blood pressure and the development of hypertension. Some of these are:
Hydration (Drink lots of water)
Simplify/reduce the amount of work in your schedule (if possible)
Now that we have delved into the intricacies of stress, we shall begin and end with the definition of hypertension, its causes, symptoms, heath issues associated with it and its remedies.
Hypertension, which is also known as high blood pressure or the “Silent Killer”, is a serious medical condition where the blood vessels have a continuously raised pressure.
Your blood pressure changes throughout the day as a result of your daily activities. If your blood pressure consistently measure above the normal level, it may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump blood.
Having a high blood pressure means that you are at risk for many health problems such as heart disease and heart attacks (damage to the arteries making them lest elastic and decreases the flow of blood and oxygen), strokes, brain and kidney diseases. Hypertension is also a major cause of global premature deaths with 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women having this condition.
Generally, hypertension develops over time and can happen due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Health conditions such as diabetes and obesity can also increase the risk of developing it. Pregnancy can also cause high blood pressure.
Fortunately, most cases of high blood pressure can be managed so as to reduce the risk for serious and life threatening health problems.
There are many ways to manage high blood pressure which involve medication and which do not. Some of the ways that do not include prescripted medication from a doctor include:
Keeping a healthy weight
Eating a healthy diet
Reduce the amount of daily or weekly work in your schedule
Plenty of rest
To conclude, the message behind all of this is to take better care of your health. It is not wise to put your body under so much stress knowingly or unknowingly.
Cherish your health and your body because if you don’t, it will waste away before you even realise it and by then it would be too late.
Maintain routine health check-ups with your doctor or physician and make sure that your body is in tip top shape. If you can’t listen to the warnings that your body is giving, at the very least listen to a health professional.
Treat your body like a temple and you will soon begin to see the rewards which will be more bountiful than you could have imagined.
With this, I leave 2 quotes about the importance of caring for one’s body.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn
“It all begins with you. If you do not care for yourself, you will not be strong enough to take care of anything in life” – Leon Brown
Aishat M. Abisola is a member of the Society for Health Communication,
Wuye District, Abuja