People should try to meditate for around 45 minutes every day to cut stress-related high blood pressure, say new guidelines.
Other tips from the International Society of Hypertension include taking time out to listen to music, doing yoga and practicing mindfulness.
Established medical advice – quit smoking and cut down on salt – still stands.
But experts say newer “body and mind” lifestyle goals can be recommended.
According to the position paper which is published in the Journal of Hypertension, there is enough scientific evidence for some less conventional approaches.
One of the authors, UK blood pressure expert Prof Bryan Williams, said in an exclusive interview with the BBC: “It all sounds like it is a bit soft and fluffy and not as dynamic, for example, as taking drugs but these things make such an important contribution to reducing the effects of stress on the cardiovascular system and the evidence is accumulating.
“There’s so much people can do for themselves. All of us need to take a step back and say, actually, I should be able to find half an hour in my day to have a little bit of time to myself and decompress and just relax – whether it’s listening to music, going for a walk or going to the gym and doing some exercise.”
What can help lower blood pressure?
High blood pressure is a leading cause of premature death.
It puts strain on the heart and blood vessels which, in the long term, can lead to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
More than a billion people or one in four adults worldwide has high blood pressure.
The panel of experts from 18 countries advise:
- Try daily stress-busting strategies like meditation, deep breathing, yoga and mindfulness
- Consider practising gratitude by focusing on positive things you can be thankful for, and doing acts of kindness to gain a sense of wellbeing
- Chill out to some calming music for at least 25 minutes, three times a week
Taking your mind off the daily grind has an important and cumulative stress-busting effect on your mind and heart, says Prof Williams.
Other good habits are staying physically active and getting enough sleep – you might want to use fitness gadgets and apps to track your steps, sleep and progress, the advice says.
Prof Williams, a specialist at University College London, said: “It’s not just the duration of sleep but it’s also the quality of sleep. And the evidence suggests that most people should be trying to achieve seven hours of good quality sleep to try and reduce the effects of the stress of not sleeping and not decompressing.”
He said the guidelines were designed to emphasise is a more holistic approach to controlling blood pressure.