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:

  1. 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.
  2. Exercise.  Even light exercise, such as going for a walk, should be quite beneficial for chronic illness.   Swimming in a pool is another example.
  3. Laugh.  Enjoy reading the comics or watching your favorite movie.
  4. Enjoy a relaxing moment in a jacuzzi or sauna.
  5. Read a novel or your favorite book.
  6. Take a cat nap.  I find that resting for 20 minutes in the middle of a busy day can be quite rejuvenating. 
  7. Enjoy a massage, craniosacral therapy, a pedicure, manicure, or facial.  When alone, I also find the Theracane  to be quite useful in this regard.
  8.  Participate in yoga.
  9. Pray or meditate.  Actively engaging in mindfulness can also help.   
  10. Relax to your favorite music.  Frankly, I find classical music to be quite relaxing.
  11. Light scented candles.
  12. Chew gum, preferably sugar-free without aspartame, if available.
  13. Drink hot tea.
  14. 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.
  15. Take a hot bath.
  16. 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.
  17. Practice guided imagery.  Imagine being at the warm beach while breathing in the salty air. 
  18. 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.
  19. Keep a journal in which you write down your feelings about your chronic illness.  This can be quite cathartic.
  20. Keep a journal in which you write down that of which you are grateful.  


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