When somebody walks out in front of your car, adrenaline is great. It spikes your heart rate, opens your blood vessels, and floods your body with sugar and fat to help you lock up your brakes.
Unfortunately, modern society has turned much of daily life into panic-inducing moments, says Redford Williams, M.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University.
Many of us experience adrenaline as a steady drip spurred by deadlines, bills, and obligations. As a result, our veins course with a surplus of fats and sugars that spike blood pressure and create tiny tears in our arteries where plaque can form.
Here’s how to slow the rush.
When you feel low-level panic setting in, remind yourself that you’re doing everything you can to solve the problem, says Dr. Williams.
Do this: Inhale through your nose for three seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for three to six seconds. Repeat until you feel calm.
Researchers from Kent State found that people who did 2 1/2 hours of mindfulness meditation every week (or about 20 minutes a day) for two months lowered their systolic blood pressure by 4.8 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure by 1.9 mmHg.
Do this: You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor murmuring“ohm.” Instead, pay attention to your body and immediate surroundings, and your mind will declutter on its own.
Focus on your breathing, the chair you’re sitting in, the way your fingers feel—become aware of your body. And acknowledge when a thought pops into your head, but don’t dwell on it or try to solve a problem. Let the thought come in, and then go out.