Living With Hypertension – One Man’s Journey

Managing my stress as part of a blood pressure control strategy

by Lewis C Howe

In the two months since I received a wake-up call about my high blood pressure, I have made a concerted effort to lose weight, eat less salt, and consume smaller portions of my healthier food options. On the advice and prodding of my doctor, I’ve even signed up for a home sleep study, in order to rule out sleep apnea as a contributing cause of my hypertension.

But one area in which I still struggle is the daily fight against a high stress lifestyle, and its detrimental effects on my health.

In addition to working for the Heart of a Giant Foundation I also maintain a full time job as a peer service navigator for persons in recovery. All this while trying to assist my 3 sons – 2 of whom are in college – with their needs, financial and otherwise.

So stress management is a key component of my overall healthy living strategy. For example, what do you do when your son’s travel soccer team sends you a bill for $800, due within a week, and you don’t get paid for ten days? Or what if your elderly father’s cancer has a recurrence the same day that two of your work clients are arrested and sent back to the county House of Correction?

Without the proper mindset and commitment to mental self-care, moments like these can send one running for the nearest donut shop or takeout stand. Stress management remains my biggest hurdle to controlling my blood pressure, and by extension my overall heart health.

Among the ways I try to reduce stress without turning to damaging habits are

In modern life, stress is always with us, especially if we have money issues, or have endured the death of a parent or been divorced. If we are to manage stress, and reduce harm to our heart brought on by these pressures, it is critical to find what activities can keep you calm, and to carve out regular time on your calendar, just as you would for a staff meeting or time with your clients.

This is not easy, but living a healthy life gets more difficult if we let our stress manage us, instead of the other way around. I’d love to hear how you handle your stressful life as a means of keeping your blood pressure down. Please pass along your ideas!

About the author:

Lewis Howe is the Community Partnerships Co-Ordinator for the Heart of a Giant Foundation. He welcomes your ideas, suggestions and expressions of support to help him in his fight against high blood pressure. You can reach him at