To be alive is to have stress. The late Hans Selye, an Austrian-Canadian endocrinologist, proposed that we respond to stress – good stress (eustress), bad stress (distress), too little stress (hypostress), or too much stress (hyperstress) – either by adapting via the “general adaptation syndrome” or by developing a pathological state from ongoing, unrelieved stress. I believe ENS patients tend to have ongoing, unrelieved stress because of the chronic physical symptoms. Yet we have tools which can reduce stress, and I believe the way we respond to stress is critical.
Common stressors for many people include money and work, in addition to dealing with chronic debilitating illnesses. As a result, I think it’s more important than ever to consider how we can reduce the stress in our lives.
Here are 20 ways to reduce stress:
- Get organized for a short-term goal. The better organized and prepared you are, the less stressful it will be. This can also apply to a financial goal.
- Exercise. Even light exercise, such as going for a walk, should be quite beneficial for chronic illness. Swimming in a pool is another example.
- Laugh. Enjoy reading the comics or watching your favorite movie.
- Enjoy a relaxing moment in a jacuzzi or sauna.
- Read a novel or your favorite book.
- Take a cat nap. I find that resting for 20 minutes in the middle of a busy day can be quite rejuvenating.
- Enjoy a massage, craniosacral therapy, a pedicure, manicure, or facial. When alone, I also find the Theracane to be quite useful in this regard.
- Participate in yoga.
- Pray or meditate. Actively engaging in mindfulness can also help.
- Relax to your favorite music. Frankly, I find classical music to be quite relaxing.
- Light scented candles.
- Chew gum, preferably sugar-free without aspartame, if available.
- Drink hot tea.
- Allot some healthy snacks (instead of those “comfort,” junk foods such as ice cream) to have on hand. Examples might include dark chocolate, almonds, or kale chips.
- Take a hot bath.
- Find a moment to be alone and “get away from it all” or, if you are an extrovert who thrives on the personal interaction, talk with someone you love.
- Practice guided imagery. Imagine being at the warm beach while breathing in the salty air.
- Strive for a positive attitude or what some call an “optimistic explanatory style.” Seeing those challenging moments in life as times of learning or unique opportunities, and maintaining an optimistic outlook will go a long way, and can certainly play a role in your physical health as well.
- Keep a journal in which you write down your feelings about your chronic illness. This can be quite cathartic.
- Keep a journal in which you write down that of which you are grateful.