Can hypnotherapy help to lower your high blood pressure?
When you think about hypnotherapy, you may think about stopping smoking, losing weight, or helping with anxiety. Using it to help control high blood pressure may not immediately come to mind, however high blood pressure (or hypertension) can often be helped with hypnotherapy.
Many cases of high blood pressure are caused, or made worse, by lifestyle factors. Anxiety, worrying, stress, poor diet, high alcohol consumption, and smoking can all affect your blood pressure; all the things that we know that hypnotherapy can help you to change and improve.
There is even a specific type of high blood pressure called 'white coat syndrome' - this is where a patient with normal blood pressure always registers an abnormally high reading when they visit the doctor or nurse. As soon as their appointment is over, their blood pressure returns to normal. This type of hypertension is purely due to the anxiety and stress caused by going to the doctor - by the fear of what might happen, and what may be wrong with them.
Of course, you should always check with your GP and never reduce or stop any blood pressure medication without your GP’s advice. Your GP will also be able to advise you on which areas they think your hypnotherapist can help you with. For example, they may suggest that losing weight or stopping smoking will help with your blood pressure issue. You can then look specifically for a hypnotherapist who specialises in that area.
How your lifestyle can contribute to high blood pressure
Things like drinking too much alcohol, eating too many fatty and sugary foods, smoking, and being overweight all put your body under stress. They cause your body to work harder to perform daily functions, and they can also cause damage to the organs of your circulatory system.
I personally specialise in working with anxiety, stress and panic attacks - here’s how these common conditions can affect your blood pressure.
When you experience worry, stress, or anxiety of any form, your body automatically responds to the 'danger' by triggering your 'fight or flight' response. This is the ancient animal response to danger that is designed to get us ready to run away or to fight.
This response causes physical changes in your body that you may recognise from anxiety and panic attack symptoms - rapid breathing, sweating, flushing, tingling in your hands and feet, and tightness in the chest. The big 'internal' thing that happens is that your blood pressure increases - a lot. Your body wants to get your blood pumping quickly around your body so you can run or fight.
Unfortunately, in the modern world, your mind responds to lots of things as if they were physical dangers. Having a stressful day at work, worrying about your exam results, or watching the television news can all result in you experiencing the 'fight or flight' response, therefore leading to increased blood pressure.
If this only happens a couple of times a year, it doesn’t really matter. It’s normal. But if you are under continuous stress, or if you are prone to worrying and overthinking, then it can become a problem for your mind and also for your body. Your blood pressure is continually high and may begin to affect your health in other ways.
How can hypnotherapy help?
Hypnotherapy can directly help you to stop smoking, improve your diet, and to drink less alcohol.
What about if you are anxious or stressed? What about if you smoke to cope with the stress at work? Or, if you drink too much to help you relax and let go at the end of the day?
Firstly, the state of hypnosis relaxes your body and lowers your blood pressure. This is good because it begins to break the negative cycle. You feel calm and relaxed for the hour or so with your hypnotherapist, and your physical body gets a chance to start to repair and benefit from lower blood pressure. Your hypnotherapist will probably also teach you self-hypnosis or a breathing technique, so you can practice doing this at home.
Next, if you do have negative behaviours linked to your stress and anxiety, you can start to replace them with something positive. For example, if you smoke when you are stressed, you could begin to replace your cigarettes with some deep breathing or five minutes of self-hypnosis. If you drink to relax after work, you could start your evening with a short meditation or self-hypnosis session.
If you are a worrier or over-thinker, then hypnotherapy can help you to relax and accept the things that you cannot control or change; to live more in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
If there are specific past events that have caused trauma, then hypnotherapy can help you to deal with them.
There really is a long (if not endless) list of how hypnotherapy can help your own individual situation. So, remember to discuss the possible causes of your high blood pressure with your GP, and then talk to a qualified hypnotherapist to see how they can help you.