High Blood Pressure

Since I was in high-school, I’ve been donating blood regularly. In high-school, I did it to impress a lady friend, but these days I do it for mostly Buddhist reasons. I usually do it about 3-4 times a year since you have to rest 8 weeks after your last donation.

Anyhow, earlier today, I went to the local blood donation center as usual during lunch break. As usual, they checked my blood pressure and pulse, but this time my pulse was too high. So, we waited a couple minutes and took it again. Same problem. Then I waited for 5 minutes and they took it one more time. Still too high. Also, my blood pressure had increased a lot since my last appointment 3 months ago. Not high enough to be medically “high blood pressure”, but definitely higher than before.

In any case, they said I couldn’t donate blood today, which was the first time in many years I had been rejected. :-/

Lately, I’ve been pretty stressed out about some things (work, finding a way to live in Japan, etc), and I think it’s starting to affect me. For the time being, I can’t really do anything about either one, so I need to learn how to manage my stress better.

Last year, I was under considerable stress and that led to heartburn problems I talked about before. Lately, my heartburn has almost totally disappeared, and that’s good news, but it seems that my blood-pressure is getting affected too.

I think my problem is that I tend to internalize my problems too much. Take too much on myself, and just “bear it”. My wife has suggested I start exercising again and do it a lot. This is a very good idea, and I have been lazy about it lately.1

I suspect I also need to reduce sodium a lot more. I ate lots of good, tasty foods in Japan2 that had high-sodium and I might need to reduce this too.

Lastly, I need to work on the stress-relief methods. I find that practicing my Japanese and Korean hand-writing is a fun way to relieve stress, but I have also been neglecting this too lately. Guess this is a good time to start up again. :p

1 One great thing about Japan: you have to walk a lot to train stations and such. I got lots of excercise then, but not here in Seattle. Of course, walking in the heat, humidity and mosquitoes is not fun, but better than being overweight and with high-blood pressure.

2 McDonald’s in Japan is awesome. So is Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sushi, 7-11 snacks, etc. Compared to American versions, the difference is amazing. :p


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

7 thoughts on “High Blood Pressure”

  1. Hi Doug, I’ve been following your blog for a while now. I started learning Japanese in January and I am very interested in Japan and also in Buddhism. I tried to post a comment when I first started following your blog but it didn’t work for some reason. Hopefully this time it will.
    I’m sorry you are suffering from the effects of stress. The reason I’m posting is that I’ve found meditation to be a indispensable tool (as well as exercise) in dealing with stress in my life. I think you would find a short daily meditation surprisingly beneficial. I only do half an hour a day but I notice when I skip it. My husband does it too and I notice when he has missed a session too! I also do longer meditation retreats every now and then.
    I’ve been enjoying your videos. It was great to see the temple in Japan.
    Best wishes,


    1. Hi Sarah and welcome! I am sorry about the problems with the last post. Sometimes spam filters have done some odd things, but I am glad it worked this time.

      Anyhow, yeah, I’ve wanted to do meditation more, but I am a working father, so in the morning I spend all my time helping my wife get the Little Princess off to school, and at night, I am helping my wife clean up and get ready for tomorrow. It leaves only a little time left for language study.

      Even 30 minutes is quite a stretch these days. I tried doing it during my lunch but my schedule varies so that too hasn’t worked out as much as I hoped.

      I would love to do meditation, but there’s no room in my life right now. I need to get more excercise too, but as with meditation, I’m struggling to find time. 🙂


      1. I have two older children but I remember what it was like trying to combine work and a young child. I wouldn’t have been able to find time for formal meditation either. However, I read a really good article a few years ago about how to find a place for meditation in these situations. I wish I had the link for you but the basic idea is that you think of a part of your day when you could be quiet and use that. For example, one of the writer’s friends had a 20 minute walk from the station to her office everyday so she used that time for walking meditation. Another time might be when you’re sitting on a train. The idea is that you spend the time just being present. You could use your breath or your footsteps as a meditation object.
        Another idea – you could start introducing meditation to your whole family. If you do it together occasionally it makes it easier to find the time. It could be part of a weekly devotional practice or something. I’ve been doing meditation with my husband for a few years now so the children have become familiar with it as part of a normal day – like brushing your teeth. Just recently, my husband starting doing a 5 minute meditation with my 10-year-old daughter. And when my teenage son started getting stressed about exams he started joining us for 20 minutes of our half hour session. He found it very beneficial. We don’t have to force him to do it – he wants to do it.

        Just a few ideas for you. I hope they give you some inspiration.
        Best wishes,


  2. I think Sarah has many good ideas. There is now a Teaching Kids to Meditate page on Facebook–or maybe there is similar info elsewhere for those not doing FB. I think if very young kids see their parents doing something, they want to do it too (at least up until a certain age). Also, I think I read somewhere that if you get up 30 minutes earlier to meditate, the meditation makes up for some or all of the sleep time decrease. Or stay up an extra 30 minutes to meditate before sleeping–it really helps me sleep well. I also have often meditated on trains and busses. Anyway, good luck, and keep up the good work!


  3. Hi Sarah and John,

    I really appreciate your input here. You’ve given me some things to think about, especially with regard to having a positive influence on kids. My daughter is 5, but she is curious about that kind of stuff a little bit.

    With regards to sleep, I always assumed meditation when sleepy is a bad idea. I find I can’t focus even a little if I am sleepy, so I was not eager to do it during late night or first thing in the morning. However, if that’s fine, then I can certain try that. The trick is waking up without waking up the loved ones.


    1. Hi there,

      I totally agree that weight and salt are a big factor. My weight and eating habits have really let themselves go in the last 3 months due to end-of-year work stress and such, so I guess this is the result.


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