But more about that later.
A recent incident at church stressed how important this is to me vividly:
I was on the run one Sunday, on my way to an event that a ministry that I lead was coordinating.
As I walked fast on my way to the Fellowship Hall, another member stopped to greet me.
While I hugged her, my mind had already gone ahead to the event location and my need to get there to ensure that everything was set up properly.
My intention was to give her a quick hug and be on my way. But my dear Sister in Christ would not let me go.
She held onto me for another minute. When she released me finally, she looked at me with concern:
“Girl, you need to slow down! You are so tense. I can see it in your face…” then she touched my upper back, “…and I can feel it here. Please promise me that you will slow down, okay?”
What she said was sobering. I appreciated her caring. I hugged her again and promised her that I would indeed slow down.
That very night, I had a dream. It was short but very powerful.
The dream merely consisted of the word “Hypertension” spelled out in large letters, except that it was spelled as “Hyper-tension.” When I woke up, the word “Hyper-tension” was still on my mind.
The Lord did not want me to live with Hyper-tension. The prefix “hyper” means “over” or “excess.”
Although the word is associated with the disease of high blood pressure, in its basic form means an excess of tension!
In my case, it happens that I have a strong history of the disease hypertension in my family. My great-grandmother and grandmother both had it. Both died of strokes. My mother has it.
And I received the genes for it as well. I have an excitable nervous system. It does not take much to get my heart pumping hard. When I was a child, I was shy and fearful. As an adult, I was consumed with worry.
So my body had become accustomed to living under tension.
I also believe that the trauma that past generations of my family suffered wrote itself on the genes they passed on to me. As a result, my body and brain are hyper-vigilant for any signs of danger.
However, I thank God that our genes are not the final word in the level of health we have!
God’s word overrides every generational curse according to Galatians 3:13-14.
The Lord gave me 3 things to do to reach my goal of stopping hypertension in my body.
Before I share the 3 things, please note:
I am not telling anyone to stop their blood pressure medication! I believe there is a place for medication. I take medication myself to relieve the symptoms of hypertension.
For the disease cure however, I believe that I must address the underlying cause. I am sowing seeds of peace within my thinking and taking actions to relax my nerves and muscles daily.
The last time I visited the doctor, she lowered my blood pressure medication because my blood pressure was becoming too low.
In the process of time (and with the cooperation of my doctor), I believe that my body and mind will become trained not to operate in hyper-tension.
So here are my 3 things that I am doing to stop hypertension:
The word of the Lord says:
- “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).”
- “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).”
- “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10)!”
These scriptures are my mental prescription for how to operate throughout the day:
- I’ve determined in my heart that I will not live troubled and afraid.
- I will keep my mind stayed on the Lord so that I can be in perfect peace throughout the day. I will listen to relaxing praise music as I work. If I face any situation that is troubling, I will immediately seek the Lord in prayer for the solution and not lean to my own understanding.
- I will take a minimum of 15 minutes daily to be still and know that He is God. I will meditate upon scriptures about Him, exalting and praising Him.
The word of the Lord says:
- Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:1-5).”
- “And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food (Genesis 1:29).”
- “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any (1 Corinthians 6:12).”
I believe that God’s first instruction about what man should eat is His best; our bodies function best when the majority of our diet is food the way God made it, not artificial, man-made “food”.
I’ve learned that the mineral magnesium tells blood vessels, nerves and muscles to relax in the body. So I structure my eating plan around foods that help the body to relax and balance my brain.
The following is a PDF document I created for myself as a shopping list for the higher magnesium foods, which you can download: Magnesium-Foods-Meal-Planning.
While these foods are not all I eat, my goal is to make these foods comprise 50% or more of what I eat each day to make it easier for my body to relax.
At the same time, I am also deleting those foods that irritate my body and puts it under stress, such as limiting sugars, salt, and processed foods.
Since you must eat anyway, I think it is wise to focus on foods that help you, not hurt you.
3. Physical Activity
The word of the Lord says:
- “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).”
- “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:8).”
- “For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall (Psalm 18:29).”
While scripture is clear that godliness is profitable above all, it tells us that exercise does profit.
Running our life’s race requires energy and endurance, which includes fulfilling our ministry, work, and family responsibilities.
The profit of exercise is that it trains our bodies to function energetically and for endurance.
For me, I exercise several times a week with a mix of cardiovascular exercise to benefit my heart and weight training to strengthen my muscles and increase my metabolism (the rate at which the body transforms food into usable energy).
According to scientists, it is possible for a fit older person to operate 20-25 years younger than their chronological age. Isn’t that exciting?
That means if you are a fit 50 year old, it is possible to operate physically at the same level as a sedentary 25 year old!
To me, Caleb in the Bible is my role model for successful aging. In Joshua 14:10-11, he said:
And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.”
Caleb made the case that he was ready to fight for all the Lord had promised him. And he got it!
In addition to formal exercise, I’ve changed how I work. Since the majority of my workday is spent on the computer, I spend part of it standing rather than sitting.
I set my adjustable laptop desk on a table and an ergonomic mat on which to stand while I use the computer. I use a timer and work in 25 minute increments, and take breaks for 5 minutes. Sometimes I sit during those 5 minute breaks and sometimes I walk around.
I believe that long periods of sitting is stressful to our bodies because we were made to move. Plus if I am having a stressful day, the tension has no release valve if I’m just sitting on it all day.
Even stretching throughout the day makes a difference!
Those are the steps I am taking to stop hypertension in my life. My vision is to live with energy, passion and purpose.
I realize that life brings distractions that will threaten my commitment to seeing this goal through to its completion.
But I am on the alert for distraction and will keep my mind focused on my vision of wellness, free of hypertension.
I hope these tips will inspire you to set a goal to stop hypertension in your own life.
Even if you don’t have a formal diagnosis of the disease, at least these tips will help you manage stress better!
Be blessed in health, healing and wholeness,
Author of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. Have you ever fallen into the trap of thinking that your past equals your future? Nothing could be further from the truth.