Does Stress Cause High Blood Pressure?

Stress is a part of life, and just about anything can trigger it. From a high-demand job to worrying about everyday situations, stressors are everywhere. It is impossible to escape all stress in life, and believe it or not, some stress is actually good for you. According to the University of California at Berkeley, short periods of stress lead to higher levels of alertness and improved cognitive function. You perform better when you are alert, and that is usually a good thing.

That being said, chronic stress is another matter altogether, and research published in Hypertension suggests that it is not good for your heart. The body releases several hormones to help you deal with stress, and one of those hormones is cortisol. When you are constantly stressed out, cortisol levels never drop. If cortisol levels stay high for too long, it can impact many aspects of your health, including your blood pressure (per Well+Good).

Stress can impact blood pressure

Short-term, stressful situations don't necessarily cause high blood pressure — it is how your body reacts to the stress that can lead to problems. Stressful situations can — and do — cause blood pressure to rise temporarily. What researchers don't know is if repeated short-term spikes can lead to high blood pressure over time (via the Mayo Clinic).

If you think you are too stressed out, the best thing you can do is take a step back and make some positive changes. If work causes you too much stress, talk to your boss about practical solutions. Set aside time to relax. Sitting quietly for about 20 minutes can help reduce blood pressure, according to the Harvard Medical School. Another step to help you manage stress and control high blood pressure is regular exercise. Whether it is going for a walk or a bike ride, physical activity helps your body feel better (via American Heart Association). You should try to avoid any situations that trigger stress, and try to get good sleep on a nightly basis. You can also seek professional help from a psychologist if stress is too overwhelming, per the American Psychological Association.