A Mindful Guide for Coping with White Coat Hypertension
For some people, going to the doctor or facing a hospital stay can be a high-stress event. Even if it’s a simple yearly check-up at your doctor’s office, you may experience anxiety, sweaty palms, or raised blood pressure. This is sometimes called “White Coat Hypertension” or “White Coat Syndrome” among medical professionals. It’s a condition in which a patient’s blood pressure readings are impacted by the presence of a medical environment. This is a guide to helping you reduce the likelihood of this phenomenon using mindfulness. This guide is informational only and is not medical advice.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that brings awareness to your body’s state of being at a particular moment in time. Typically, the present. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to overcome hypertension and stress so you can feel more comfortable seeking medical attention.
For some people, meditation seems like a complicated practice or one they’ve never really been able to master. The first thing to remind yourself is that everyone is different. Therefore, a person’s meditative practices are going to be unique to them. These techniques are meant to guide you to finding a mindfulness practice that works for you. Remember to be patient with yourself and listen to your mind and body.
Picking a place to practice mindfulness
It’s important to start practicing mindfulness in a space that is safe and quiet. Distractions such as your phone, a TV, or radio can pull you away from focusing on your body in the present moment. Get into a comfortable position and focus on how that space feels to you. Note the sensations in your body, the temperature, or any points of tension. Try grounding yourself in the physical world as anxiety often stems from the mind.
Setting a timer for mindfulness
Try setting a time limit. Because everyone has a different practice, it’s hard to know how long is too long or too short. You may sit there and open one eye to see how much time has passed. Setting a timer allows you to freely explore your practice without being distracted by how much time has passed. This is something you can easily do in the waiting room or a recovery suite with the timer on your phone (be sure to check posted signage, some waiting rooms prohibit or discourage the use of mobile phones, and make sure the timer alarm sound is set to vibrate or on low.).
Be patient with yourself
Let your mind wander. It’s a common assumption that meditation and mindfulness means quieting the mind. This is impossible. Let your thoughts flow freely throughout your mind without anchoring yourself in them. The best way to do this is to breathe.
Grounding yourself in your breath functions in two different ways. First, it focuses your mind on a physical task and pulls you away from anxiety-inducing thoughts. Second, it gets more oxygen to your brain which improves various bodily processes, including stress management. Deep breaths are shown to reduce heart rate and other physical signs of stress.
Overcoming hypertension during the COVID pandemic
For people who experience White Coat Hypertension, the COVID-19 virus can be extremely stressful and scary. Going to the doctor’s office suddenly looks different and isn’t as personable as it once was. Now you see doctors in partial or full PPE, which creates a barrier between yourself and your health practitioner.
It’s important not to let this impact whether or not you seek medical attention. Hospitals and other health centers are taking necessary precautions to isolate COVID patients and contaminated areas from regular care. Contact your doctor’s office before an appointment to discuss the current preventative practices they have in place. This can help prepare you for the environment before being in it.
Check out the articles below for more tips on mindfulness.
From the Acuity Family, we want to help relieve your fears and anxiety surrounding doctors. Feel comfortable contacting us to discuss our available treatments and current COVID procedures. We wish you health and safety during this time.