Any parent knows raising children is stressful. From newborns to teenagers, it doesn’t matter the age, parenting involves stress, worry, and anxiety. Talk shows, such as Dr. Phil (who recently featured our very own Jessica Gottlieb) would go out of business if raising children was a walk in the park.
Of course, parenting isn’t always so stressful, but there are times my kids know how to push my buttons and raise my blood pressure, that’s why a new study finding “parenthood is associated with lower blood pressure, particularly so among women” is surprising.
Conducted at Brigham Young University (BYU) and published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, this new study found that not only do diet and exercise lower blood pressure, but social factors, like parenting, have an effect too. BYU psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad, as reported in Medical News Today, explains:
While caring for children may include daily hassles, deriving a sense of meaning and purpose from life’s stress has been shown to be associated with better health outcomes…This doesn’t mean the more kids you have, the better your blood pressure. The findings are simply tied to parenthood, no matter the number of children or employment status.
198 adults participated in the study by wearing portable blood pressure monitors 24 hours a day. The results showed that “parents scored 4.5 points lower than non-parents in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and 3 points lower than non-parents in diastolic blood pressure.” Mothers had even lower numbers on average with a “12-point difference in systolic blood pressure and a 7-point difference in diastolic blood pressure”.
Perhaps it is that loving hug in the morning, or the delighted face when you pick your child up from school that keeps you health. Perhaps there’s the feeling that your parenting stress is not selfish but out of greater concern for your offspring. Whatever the reason, next time you want to explode from parenting pressures, remember, your blood pressure is really low 🙂