The statement that I hear the most as a nurse is, “I don’t want to take medication to lower my blood pressure”. I get it!
The side-effects of medications can be uncomfortable (especially the impact on libido). And taking medication is inconvenient. And expensive.
But, I can’t safely suggest that you stop taking your medication–you are at
However, what I can suggest is that you change your self-care to lower your blood pressure. Doing so can give you a chance of not needing your blood pressure medication at all, or at least a lower dose.
Self-care can include everything from what eating approach you follow (your diet), how much activity you perform, what supplements you take, to any other herbal or natural remedies you take or do to lower your blood pressure.
Changing your self-care requires learning a lot of new information. And it can be overwhelming to see how vital eating differently is to lowering your blood pressure.
That’s why I wrote a printable guide to help you ease into the self-care that lowers your blood pressure. I have it at the end of this post for you. I think a couple of them might surprise you!
This article provides 9 suggestions to help you work on lowering your blood pressure naturally with your self-care.
A little side-note, as the volume of information on the Internet has grown, more unproven advice has been shared.
Tell your healthcare provider all of the natural methods you want to use to reduce your blood pressure. Doing so will ensure that what you are doing is safe and effective – per evidence-based practices.
Consider trying these 9 self-care tips to lower your blood pressure:
First Things First:
- Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations. (Talk to your healthcare provider about your desire to reduce the dose or stop using medication to lower your blood pressure. DO NOT STOP TAKING THEM until your health provider tells you it is safe and appropriate to do so.) Your risk of cardiovascular complications is double compared to people with normal blood pressure.
Things to Do More:
- Be active. Regular exercise is necessary. Walking counts as an exercise, and it works! Do the activities you enjoy. Hate to exercise? Try this!
- Next, diligently make healthy food choices. Every day. The College of Cardiology (COC) recommends the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or the more commonly called Dash Diet. The DASH Diet is a flexible lifelong approach to healthy eating. Most people can adapt to this lifestyle change, even if they hate eating vegetables. (Don’t forget about the printable below!) The emphasis of the DASH Diet is to eat a proper portion size, reduce the sodium in your diet, and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure. For example, foods with potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Don’t forget to print out your free list to help you.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mgs) a day, and for most adults. For people with high blood pressure, an ideal limit is no more than 1,500 mg per day. Even cutting back 1,000 mg/day has been shown to improve blood pressure and heart health.
The Salt & Sodium Connection
If you are working to lower your blood pressure (or lose weight) you need to understand how much sodium is in salt so you can make changes to control your intake. Sodium chloride or table salt is approximately 40% sodium.
- 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
- 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
- 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
- 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
On a food label, the values reported are ‘per serving’. If you eat an entire can of soup and it contains two servings, you have double the sodium intake listed.
Watch out for the ‘Salty 6’ – the top six common foods that add the most salt to your diet. Read food labels so you can use products or brands that contain the lowest sodium for these items:
- Breads and Rolls
- Cold cuts and cured meats
Are looking for a good vegetable-forward cookbook or cooking magazine?
I use and like these because they use seasonal ingredients and you do not have to be a ‘chef’ to make the dishes. The first one is a cookbook, and the second one, Eating Well, is a monthly magazine which now contains the best parts of a long-running magazine Cooking Light.
There are also many, many DASH Diet specific cookbooks available. I like this one because it provides guidance not only for recipes but also your spice cabinet and pantry. But, there are tons of other options if you think this one is too basic for you.
Things to Do Less:
- Stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, never start! Many workplaces, insurance companies, and state or local governments have smoking cessation programs (and coverage). Don’t let cost detour you – research coverage options or scholarships for smoking cessation programs. The programs with the most successful outcomes offer some kind of accountability coaching or ongoing support and encouragement.
- Reduce your stress. Stress management will look different to all of us, but the point is that a reduction in your stress level can help lower your blood pressure level. Ongoing stress is harmful to your health. It can lead to life-threatening diseases. This doesn’t exactly mean get a massage every other day. It means taking a critical look at your stressors and looking for possibilities to manage the impact, lessen, or even eliminating them as needed. Make choices that eliminate stressors in your life.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Further, cut back on the amount of caffeine you drink and eat. Caffeine is in food too.
- Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline regularly. Losing just 10% of your current weight can have a positive impact on your blood pressure!
Take One Step at a Time!
All of these self-care tips to lower your blood pressure are important to do on an ongoing basis. While it may seem overwhelming, it’s important to realize that none of these self-care tips are impossible to do, especially if you have
The most important thing to do is to START. Start small–just pick one thing to do at a time.
But, even changing one part of your self-care can be overwhelming or can create anxiety. That’s okay.
We all can feel overwhelmed making a lifestyle change and that’s why I’ve got one last self-care tip.
- Start meditating. Meditation has been shown in research to reduce anxiety and stress. If you are a person of faith, engaging in prayer is a form of meditation. And, worship and regular church attendance have also been found as a way to reduce anxiety and manage stress.
If your faith is important to you, I want to encourage you to utilize the truth of God, shared in the Bible. You can use scripture to help you find the courage to start taking better care of yourself, and the motivation to continue good self-care.
You can offer your self-care as a living sacrifice!
It is likely you are not just trying to take better care of yourself. You take care of others too. Whether you care for your children, support your spouse, care for aging parents, serve in a ministry, or maybe even all of the above, it takes motivation to make your self-care a priority when you are caring for others. So consider taking care of yourself as a way to worship and honor the Lord. Find more information here.
Finally, in closing, take the time to identify your personal needs so you can give yourself the proper care needed to lower your blood pressure.
Follow your health provider’s medical advice and implement these 9 self-care tips to lower your blood pressure.
Self-care with the specific intent to reduce your blood pressure may help you decrease your dose or possibly even the need for your medication (with your healthcare provider’s direction).
And, you never know, you might find you feel better and enjoy taking better care of yourself!