There are so many things out there that are considered bad for us. Even things that we used to think are good for us have been proven to be harmful. Vegetables can be seen as harmful if they are genetically modified. Pesticides ruin the rest for us. Not exercising enough is harmful, but so is over exercising. Working too hard can be harmful, and so can not working hard enough. It’s really hard to win in a world like that.
But everything in moderation, as some say, and I’m a big fan of allowing myself indulgences. When you allow yourself to indulge in little things, you’ll be more productive, happier, and less stressed.
Stress can cause high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is bad for your brain, kidneys, heart, and many other things. Keeping your blood pressure down is an important aspect to good health.
There are a few indulgences that have a direct effect on your blood pressure.
Many studies have been done that prove that owning pets – particularly dogs – reduces blood pressure for those who own them.
When I’m in the midst of a big homework assignment or trying to get caught up on things at work, I do find that taking some time out to take my dog for a walk or play with her relaxes me a lot.
Dogs don’t take themselves too seriously and my dog reminds me to not get stuck on the little things. It’s refreshing how dogs are so easy to forgive, relaxed, and playful. Hanging out with my dog for an afternoon definitely helps a lot with melting some stress away.
Dark chocolate is shown to help lower blood pressure, which may be surprising to some. Unfortunately, many people don’t like dark chocolate, but this is a nice little tidbit for those of us who do.
Plus, dark chocolate is shown to decrease cravings for other sweet things, as it’s so rich that even those with the worst sweet tooth can’t handle too much of it.
In a study, the effects of dark chocolate on blood pressure were not very significant, however, paired with other methods, dark chocolate can reduce the chance of heart disease.
There are many studies that both support and negate the effects of coffee on blood pressure, but most recently, it is shown that one cup of coffee per day can reduce blood pressure in the long term, even if it increases it in the short term.
Coffee is shown to have many positive effects on health, including staving off dementia, lowering the risk of heart disease, and providing mental clarity. If coffee helps you get through the day, then this is good news. Drinking too much caffeine can be bad for you, as it can dehydrate the body and give you the jitters, however, in moderation it is shown to do more good than harm.
In moderation, alcohol can lower your blood pressure quite significantly. There is, of course, many dangers of drinking alcohol, and it can do more harm than good, but if you already settle in after work with a glass of wine, rest assured that what you are doing is not overly bad for you.
If you are not drinking alcohol in moderation, but rather in excess, the it can give you the opposite effect. Moderation is key in the case of alcohol.
In North American culture, it’s hard to find time to relax and watch a funny movie or be with friends, especially without feeling guilty for not fulfilling an obligation. But stress can be terrible for our bodies, including our brain function, blood pressure, hearts, and even our digestive systems.
Taking time out to spend some time doing something that makes you laugh, whether that’s playing with a child or watching a funny movie, can be very good for your blood pressure.
I love napping. There’s nothing better on a Sunday afternoon then to finish up some chores and fall asleep while reading a book. I tend to feel a little guilty after a nap, because there are so many other, more productive things that I could have been doing with my Sunday afternoon.
However, I should stop feeling guilty because naps can relax us to the point of lowering our blood pressure significantly, and people who nap on a regular basis are apparently less likely to show signs of stress.
What’s your favorite indulgence that can be seen as good for you?
It sounds like I need to demand more naps and alcohol at work! That should help the stress level:)
Chocolate, coffee, alcohol, my favorites! Good to know they’re also good for me…in moderation, of course. 😉
Amen, sister! Cocoa has also been shown to reverse atherosclerosis.
I love me some nap time. When I get stressed out it just naturally seems to happen, and I’m glad you’ve included it on the list!
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! And petting the cat. Which is great, until she scratches you. 🙂
I love what you said about napping because I too often feel guilty about having a nap because I could be doing something more productive. I think that the positive effects of napping outweigh the time lost.
Napping. Man I love a good weekend nap. I never really felt that guilty about it, and now I’ll feel even less guilty! 🙂
I have a white chocolate mocha in the late afternoon which does wonders to relax me. Although it is low sugar and virtually caffeine free, it is probably not good for me. It is one of m few indulgences!
Napping is something that I just have trouble doing. I get too wound up I suppose. HOWEVER, on the rare occasion that I do nap, I feel very good later – and relaxed.
Laughter does it too. Some of the best moments of life involve laughter!
Seeing our close friends at least once a week to just hang out and laugh keeps me sane. I’ve also started walking daily with my out-of-shape Pug, and that is truly a lot of fun. It is hilarious watching him encounter things he must not have seen before like ducks…it’s like fear and curiosity battle themselves out…
Love dark chocolate (not so much a fan of milk chocolate) and napping. Coffee too (which goes well with the former, but not the later).
Thanks, Daisy, great tips. And easy to follow as well – I have to get on with the alcohol and naps. The rest I already do – and I love dark chocolate :).
I love napping too! Some of the longest living societies have nap rituals. If I can’t nap, I try to relax with breathing and meditation exercises for a few minutes.