Take a Chill Pill: How Stress Affects Vein Health
Learning how to relax and unwind can have a seriously positive effect on your venous health — here’s why.
Stress can aggravate nearly every medical condition, and varicose veins are equally vulnerable to it. While stress isn’t a cause of chronic venous insufficiency, it significantly contributes to habits that can exacerbate your symptoms, making effective stress management strategies all the more important. We’ll outline some of stress’ effects on your varicose veins here and offer some tips to make it more manageable.
While stress has a number of physical effects, it has a particularly detrimental impact on your circulation. Heightened stress can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure, which places greater strain on the walls of your veins. Prolonged stress only compounds the problem.
Since varicose veins are already inflamed, a rise in blood pressure induced by stress only contributes to them. As the veins continue to protrude, the faulty venous valves increasingly struggle to pump blood, allowing it to accumulate in the veins and further obstruct the flow of blood. With so much blood in the veins, they only become more swollen, causing patients even greater pain.
Aside from its direct effects on your circulatory system, stress can indirectly derail any treatment plans that might be mitigating your symptoms. Since stress tends to discourage people from dieting, for example, it makes them more likely to indulge in salty foods, which can further increase your blood pressure. Similarly, it can make people less inclined to regularly exercise, which can result in gaining weight, a significant risk factor for patients with varicose veins.
Managing Stress, Managing Your Veins
While stress can make varicose veins particularly unpleasant, any patient can easily avoid these complications by simply reducing stress. As challenging as that is for most, there are some effective strategies that anybody can follow.
Since work is the primary cause of stress for most Americans, adjusting your work life can make your varicose veins much more tolerable. Establishing a regular schedule of major duties, for example, can make your workload much more manageable, while taking a break to meditate or otherwise decompress can reduce any impact a recent assignment may have on your mental health. Moderate exercise can have a positive effect as well — yoga, hiking/walking, riding a bike, and swimming laps are all great ways to both improve your circulatory health and decompress. Along those same lines, if your job is mostly sedentary, taking time to walk up the stairs, around the office, and to the restroom can also help by stimulating circulation throughout the day.
Managing stress can also ensure adherence to a healthy diet, further preventing damage to your varicose veins. If you’re tempted to indulge in salty snacks, step back and consider their effects on your health, and how you might feel after eating them. Simply remembering that you’re eating for health rather than relieving stress can help you make the proper dietary choices.
Nobody responds well to stress, and varicose veins particularly react poorly to it. If you’re worried that stress is having an undue influence on your veins, schedule an appointment with a qualified vein specialist today to discuss your condition and develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.