Stress is an inevitable part of life. Managing stress effectively is important for every person, but for the person dealing with chronic illness it is essential for optimal functioning.
There is good stress and bad stress. Even good stress can be difficult to deal with when oneís resources are limited due to chronic illness. Stress is an inherent component of chronic illness, arising from the inevitable challenges, loss and limits it creates, therefore adding more than the average level of stress to oneís life.
It is impossible to eliminate stress completely, nor would you want to, a certain amount of stress is healthy. The key is to find ways to minimize its negative impact on your life, cope effectively and reduce the excess.
Too much stress or stress that is not handled effectively can affect the immune system, therefore symptoms may become exacerbated or new symptoms may arise, keeping the immune system overwhelmed. It may also make you irritable and interfere in your quality of life.
Try to incorporate some of these stress busters into your life.
Donít take on too much at one time. Say no when you want to.
Allow yourself to live within your limits. Donít push yourself too hard.
Be patient, loving and forgiving with yourself.
Take frequent breaks.
Make adjustments in your life according to what your body needs.
Pace yourself. Break tasks and chores into increments. Allow yourself adequate time to achieve tasks.
Prepare ahead and plan resting periods after events you know will drain you.
Make love or if youíre alone masturbate. Endorphins released during sexual activity are a great stress reliever.
Limit your time on the phone and interactions. Constant talking and interacting can be draining.
Take a hot shower or bath without interruptions.
Listen to soothing music. If music or sound is an irritant for you, then this suggestion is not for you.
Take a day trip. A short trip to a peaceful place such as the ocean, lake, park, zoo, etc. can be very relaxing and soothing. If your health limits allow take a vacation.
Make lists of chores, activities, tasks, etc. and do them one at a time.
Participate in activities that are meaningful to you and give purpose to your life.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. They only mask your symptoms and will intensify the problem in the long run.
Eat a healthy well balanced diet. Avoid caffeine and sugar.
Get proper sleep- if youíre sleep deprived you canít cope well with stress.
Partake in deep breathing exercises. The breath is a great calming agent.
Humor is great for the soul. Get regular doses.
Regular exercise burns stress off and helps you cope better.
Spend time with nature. It nurtures, soothes and feeds.
Engage in prayer or meditation.
Take frequent naps or resting periods- Naps can be very rejuvenating.
Vent emotional stress. Talk it out, write it out or whatever it takes to release it. Donít let it build.
Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed. is an author and holistic health counselor helping individuals living with chronic illness or chronic pain to live life to the fullest and find holistic life management strategies.