I have come across a trend with children recently…and it alarms me.
Blood pressure is rising in children under 18, to the tune of 1-1.7 million more than ‘normal.’
There has been a historic and consistent 1-2% rate of high blood pressure in children under 18. This has been primarily found in infants and toddlers who have rare medical conditions, and teenagers who have hypertension.
The increase in high blood pressure appears to be mostly an increase in hypertension in the 13-18 age group. And that is why I am alarmed.
While hypertension is sometimes unavoidable, most forms of it are affected, at least in part, by lifestyle choices. Diet, exercise, sleep habits, stress (both active and passive), are all widely understood factors that foster an inner environment of hypertension.
We need to do something about this.
The life habits learned in youth are the life habits that will be the easiest for our adult children to “fall into.”
There are things we can do to create lifestyle habits that decrease, rather than increase, the risk of hypertension. Here are five outstanding, SIMPLE, habits to cultivate in our families to help our children alleviate stress.
1. Pray. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” (James 5:13)
2. Be joyful. Cultivate the habit of happiness and teach your children to find joy in something every day. “A joyful heart is like good medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22)
3. Breathe. Teach your children to breath deeply, as opposed to the constricted breathing that most people have in times of stress. “How can my lord’s servant talk with my Lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.” (Daniel 10:17)
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” –Amit Ray
4. Sleep. Teach your children to protect their “sleep zone” and to take sleep seriously. Sleep is one of the greatest stress releases we can have. But stress is created by having unhealthy and irregular sleep patterns “When you lie down, do not be afraid, when you lie down, don’t be afraid.” (Proverbs 3:24)
“There’s an increased risk of high blood pressure for people who sleep between five and six hours a night. It’s thought that sleep helps your blood regulate stress hormones and helps your nervous system remain healthy. Over time, a lac of sleep could hurt your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones, leading to high blood pressure. Sleeping seven to eight hours a night may play a role in the treatment and prevention of high blood pressure.” –Dr. Sheldon G. Sheps, Mayo Clinic
5. Walk. Deuteronomy 6:7 reads, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way…” God assumes you will be physically walking with your children. Yes, I know, they didn’t have cars then. But you get the point. 🙂
“For healthy, non-hypertensive people, walking around can reduce the diastolic blood pressure. Fro those with psychological stress, walking can also reduce systolic blood pressure. In that latter group of people, we often see a higher baseline pre-exercise blood pressure and a nice reduction of blood pressure to normal levels once they are in motion. Walking may be just the thing you need.” –Dr. Stephen Sinatra
These are just five simple things we can do. There are many others.
They call high blood pressure the silent killer. Our children are growing up in a world that is more stressful than ever, where we can hear the most horrific news from every sector of the globe, all at once on one news blog. In this world of so much darkness, let’s do what we can to create a culture of light in our homes.
You can do it. I can do it. We can do it.
So let’s focus on what we can control.
Let’s show our children that how to live a life of peace in a world of stress.