It might come as a surprise, but where and when you measure your blood pressure really matters. Our blood pressure can change drastically depending on where we are.
This might sound familiar, and it's called 'white coat syndrome'. It's normal for unfamiliar or stressful environments to increase your blood pressure.
People who find GP practices or getting to GP practices stressful might have high blood pressure when a doctor or nurse is measuring it and not because they have an underlying medical problem.
We know that measuring blood pressure can be uncomfortable and that you might not always get the support you need. So we want to make it easy for you to take your blood pressure from home at a time that suits you – and then be able to send it straight to us.
Our tips to help you relax before taking your blood pressure:
1. Clear your mind
Meditation is a great way to calm your mind and reduce stress. We also know that meditating regularly can lower blood pressure long-term.
Even five minutes of sitting still and focusing on your breathing can have a big impact on your blood pressure readings. Try a short, guided meditation before taking your blood pressure.
Try this short five-minute guided meditation before taking your blood pressure.
2. Skip on your morning coffee
Too much caffeine can cause a short, sharp rise in blood pressure.
Avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, coke-cola, and other caffeinated food and drink a few hours before taking your blood pressure.
3. Spend some time with your furry friends
Around 50% of people in the UK have a pet, but most people don't know they can help lower your blood pressure.
Giving your dog some much-needed belly rubs can lower your blood pressure by 10%? If you have a pet, spending 10 minutes with them before taking your blood pressure could have a really positive effect.
4. Avoid salty foods
We know that sodium in the diet causes an increase in blood pressure. If you’re salt-sensitive, these can cause quite large rises in your blood pressure.
Pre-packaged, processed and restaurant foods are the biggest culprit for a lot of salt. Try cooking at home or choosing a low-sodium option if you need to buy ready-meals.
BBC Good Food has a range of low-sodium recipes you can try out.
5. Make sure you go to the bathroom
Did you know a full bladder can increase your blood pressure?
When you're holding your bladder, it can put pressure on your abdominal muscles and blood vessels. Plus it doesn't feel great!
6. Don't take your blood pressure right after exercise
Most of us know that exercise increases your blood pressure. But did you know it takes a couple of hours to come back down to normal levels.
Even if you feel like you're relaxed, try to wait as long as you can before taking your blood pressure.
7. Try not to drink before taking your blood pressure
Drinking alcohol raises your blood pressure, so we advise you to avoid taking your blood pressure if you've drank an alcoholic drink or have been drinking the day before.
8. How your sitting matters!
When you take your blood pressure, make sure you're sitting in a comfy chair with both feet on the floor.
You should sit with your back straight and supported, so we'd recommend sitting on a dining chair over the sofa for example.
9. Don't worry about an odd result
Measuring your blood pressure is all about looking at averages and patterns over time.
If you get one result that seems a bit strange, try not to let it worry you! Everyone will get a strange result from time to time for a variety of reasons.
10. It's okay to take it later
Ultimately this is our main tip.
If you're feeling really stressed and worried about taking your blood pressure at that specific moment. You can always take your blood pressure when you're feeling more relaxed. There's no strict time limit.