Blood Pressure Anxiety

This has got to be the original Catch 22.

You need to have your blood pressure taken but that worries you so your blood pressure increases, you then run the risk of actually getting sick. When you walk into the doctor’s surgery or hospital you anticipate that worried look from the nurse as she watches the reading sky rocket. A self-fulfiling prophecy, a dog that catches its own tale.

Health anxiety is pretty standard in this world of Modern Worry. But we try to do our best for ourselves and look after ourselves as best we can. However we walk the line between caring and caring too much. If our blood pressure is high then all sorts of other concerns kick in, the treadmill of more tests looms. We need to get checked out but with a false reading bumping up the pressure it is no wonder so many avoid getting tested.

It is well documented that meditation and mindfulness and hypnosis and a host of other things can help to reduce blood pressure. Stroking your pet, listening to music, a glass of wine, the list is endless. However the acute pressure that our nerves create when going to the doctor is not so easy to deal with. The imagination runs wild, how do we control ourselves at that specific moment?

Have you seen Derren Brown appear to stop his own heart from beating? He gets a member of the audience to beat a drum in time with his pulse and we all watch in amazement as the drum beat gets slower and slower until…he passes out, or maybe not. It’s a trick of course but it floats the idea that hypnosis or some form of thought process can slow the heart. Heart rate and blood pressure are not the same thing of course but the idea of mind over matter is a powerful one.

Some people get round the problem by buying their own blood pressure monitor which they keep at home. The cosy home environment helps to sneak up on the problem before the mind has a chance to scupper the reading.

Blood pressure responds to thoughts and feelings. This is proved by White Coat syndrome, the psychological effect that is produced by a visit to a hospital leading to adverse physical symptoms. So surely what goes up can also go down. If your mind can increase something then surely it can reduce something. This concept underpins many of the unproved but logical inferences applied in mind over matter therapies, most notably hypnotherapy. The imagination creates problems, so lets use the imagination to solve problems.

Positive thinking, mind over matter, call it what you like but its got to be worth a go.

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Andrew Cunningham

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