Thursday, January 8, 2015

Lets Talk About Stress, Baby

And anxiety, and panic....

It's all a part of having a chronic disease. The unfortunate thing about it (other than the obvious) is that stress, and anxiety can make something like colitis or Crohn's worse. Although it's not known to cause them, it does exacerbate the symptoms if you aren't careful. 

Even knowing that you are doing yourself more harm than good by worrying about what is wrong with you, it's almost impossible to not stress about it at least a little. Almost every person I have spoken with about having colitis, or Crohn's says the same thing at first; "I've been so worried" Of course you are worried! Your body is literally attacking itself! You are sick, bleeding, bloated, and sad. It's totally normal to feel that way. I still feel that way at the tiniest thing, and I've been dealing with this for many years. 

Since this is such a hard part of dealing with being chronically ill, I wanted to share a few ways I try to stay stress free. I do not do a good job of it, but I'm working on it. 

1. Go shopping. 
Only if you feel like it, and if it's something you enjoy of course. Sure shopping can wear you out, but it's worth it if you have fun! Take a friend along and make an afternoon of it. 

2. Listen to music. 
I freaking love music. I love it more than shopping, and that is saying a lot. It's so great to just sit back, relax, and listen to some of your favorite songs! I always go back to my favorites like the Beatles or the Moody Blues, but I might throw in a little Tay tay too. Don't judge. Get lost in the sound and let the stress melt away. 

3. Drink water. 
I cannot prove that one of the health benefits to drinking water is stress relief, but I am going to claim it for myself. I think it's the fact that I know it's doing my body good that just makes me a little calmer. Also oddly enough when I've had issues with panic attacks, drinking a glass of water has helped. Weird. 

4. Find a good meditation app. 
I use one called Simply Being. It has different lengths, and sounds, and really puts me in a good place if I am feeling especially on edge. Sometimes I play it right before bed just because. 

5. Exercise.
I am not good at this. I will not elaborate on how bad I actually am at this. I will however say that it absolutely works. I know it's so hard when you don't feel good, but even a brisk walk or yoga makes a huge difference. I need to trust myself on this. 

Ok this isn't a do. This is a big don't. DONT DO IT! This is also something I need to work on, but Googling symptoms, or what ifs, or anything else related to your disease is a terrible idea. Do you know what happens when you Google flu symptoms? You are dying. Now think about Googling colitis symptoms. Yeah. Don't. 

7. Phone a friend. 
Create a support system even if it's just one person. I have the worlds most patient, and helpful husband. I am convinced of this because he has been there to hear me complain, worry, cry, talk about the crap I've Googled (DON'T), and complain more, but he doesn't complain. He may very sweetly suggest that I stop thinking about it for a while, but he is my rock. It is essential that you have someone in your life like this. Someone that will listen when you are sad, and frustrated no matter the reason and be there. This isn't easy to find because people are inherently selfish. That's ok. You also have to understand that fact, and be patient when they are a little worn. I know it's hard dealing with a chronic illness, but it is also very hard to see your loved one going through something so awful. Even if you find solace in a message board, or someone else dealing with the same issue, just find someone to talk to. 

8. Find your own strength. 
As it typically does, number 7 leads me right to number 8. You have to realize that you are so much stronger than you think. You are not defined by your illness, or panic attacks, or worry. Sometimes number 7 won't be there, and you have to find solace in knowing that you will be ok. 

9. Help others. 
This one is carrying on the same theme. Be a support for someone else. That has been my greatest joy in all of this. I have the ability to help others that are dealing with the same struggles. Find a way to do the same and you will not be sorry. 

10. Rest. 
Give yourself time to heal. Take a nap. Take a time off. Take a day off from work or school if you can. Your health is the most important thing. You only live once, and you have to take care of your body, even if your butt, or brain, or just your spirit is broken. You have sick days. I learned this the hard way. I tried to work at my sickest and ended up on short term disability. I hated it. I'm not a call in sick kind of girl, but I had to do it. Do not question me on this. You have to rest with a chronic illness, and if you don't you won't heal properly. 

These are just a few that help me, but there are many more ways to de-stress out there. Specifically if you want to Google something (in this case you have my permission) look up how to cope with stress, or dealing with panic disorder. These will turn up a wealth of knowledge that can help in any situation. 

You can always ask questions here. I'm not embarrassed to talk about anything so please let me know if you are concerned and I will do my best to help. Let me know if you try any of these and how much better you feel! :)


Images: here, here, here, and here

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