I know we cannot control a lot of things around us. I mean, if we did, we would have to live in an insular world with big walls and no outside contact with anyone else. While it would be nice to not have to worry about anything, we must face that this cannot be for now. So, how has stress affected you and your autoimmune disease?
I have found that for some reason, different kinds of stress affect me differently. For example, when I get unwelcome news or some unpleasant revelation from someone in my life, it absolutely can send me into a worse flare than I was in. When confronted with this type of stress, for instance when I lost my job, it can send me spiraling out of control and manifest itself by joint pain, mouth blisters, severe fatigue, migraines and gastrointestinal issues. In other words, I become incapacitated, bed bound and there is nothing I can do about it.
However, I have found that when my stress involves an emergency of some sort, I can rise to the situation and be quite capable despite the big bad wolf (aka lupus). My body goes into control mode and I can react quite like a normal person would. It is only AFTER the event or emergency is over that the wolf bites me again. It seems to bide his time knowing that whatever it is will be over and then he can attack at will. Mind over matter. Um, I don’t think so. It is just a fight or flight trigger that carries me through the event and once it has passed, here comes ole wolfie to get me for helping out someone else.
Much of the literature that is out there about lupus mentions stress quite frequently. Stress is a known trigger for flare ups or worsening of flares.Almost everything I have read on the subject of stress in lupus patients tells us to avoid stress as much as we can. Not easy in this world today! If they can tell me how to do that, then they should win a nobel prize! Stress is unavoidable today but we, as lupus patients, have to minimize it as much as we can. How can we do that you ask? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Avoid situations that you know are stress laden if you can.
2. if you can, vent your anger on paper and then throw it away. (This is one of the techniques I use).
3. Indulge in a nice, hot bath with candles flickering and soft music. It is amazing how much this can help you.
4. Avoid the people who bring you stress if you can. We all have friends or family that call you up and rant and rave and then by the time you hang up, you are a bundle of nerves. Don’t do it!
5. Read a book. You can go to the library and stroll around checking it out and finding some good books to read. It helps me a lot to do this.
6. When times are stress laden, I sometimes will chant a meditation in my head, not out loud. It can be something like, “I refuse to let anyone bother me”. I repeat it over and over until I believe it. It works too!
7. When stress is off the hook and heavy, stop for a minute and evaluate if you are contributing to it. Seriously, sometimes we can do ourselves more harm than good.
8. Take a nap.
9. Enjoy a hobby. I love to scrapbook and when possible, I go to my craft room and scrap away! I find it to be very therapeutic and it calms me right down.
10. Put some headphones or earbuds in and listen to some calming music. My preference is celtic music but listen to what makes you serene and stress free.
We will call this my top ten stress busters. If you are able, exercise can help as well. I like to dance when my joints aren’t hurting so bad. I put on some old time disco music and shake my groove thing, well, I attempt to shake it anyway…ha ha. I don’t recommend this one in the company of others.
Ok, so I ended up with my top eleven, but these are a few of my favorite ways to de-stress from whatever this old world throws at me. Now, as I asked before, what do you do to handle the stress in your life? I would love to know and then I can find more ways to get rid of it.