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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Self-Help: Managing Stress

I have never been one to manage stress effectively. If anything, I would try to compartmentalize everything so I wouldn't have to deal with anything as it happens. It seemed so much easier at the time.

Week 4 of the online Fibromyalgia Self-Help course focuses on managing stress. "Stress is a double challenge to people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. First, illness adds new sources of stress to those common in everyday life. Second, CFS and FM are very stress-sensitive illnesses. A given level of stress takes a greater toll than on healthy people. Thus, the double challenge: your stresses are multiplied at a time when you are more vulnerable to the effects of stress."

Stress can come from many different sources, including:
  • Symptoms: Ongoing discomfort is tiring and worrisome

  • Limits: Frustration from living within strict limits

  • Loss: Loss of control, of income, of friends and of dreams for future

  • Isolation: Stress from spending time alone or feeling different or alienated

  • Money: Financial pressure

  • Relationships: Often strained; may lose some relationships

  • Thoughts: Unrealistic expectations or overly-pessimistic thoughts

  • Uncertainty: Worry about the future

  • Sound/Light: Sensitivity to sensory overload

  • Allergies: Sensitivities to foods and other substances

  • Fatigue: Sleep deprivation

My post for week 4 follows:

Overwhelming stress is one of the main reasons I had to leave my job and drop out of graduate school. The stress got so bad there wasn't a day that I didn't break down into an uncontrollable and hysterical fit of crying. I don't even have to explain how that affected my pain level.

Things I currently do to relieve stress:

1. Audiobooks. I download audiobooks onto my iPod, lay down with an eye mask to block the light, and be read to. Sometimes I'll do this for an hour or so, but on particularly bad days I've been known to do this the entire day. It keeps my mind focused on the story being told and off of other things.

2. Laughing. Whether it's something something funny I find on the Internet or having a funny conversation with a friend or family. Laughing always eases the stress.

3. Acceptance. This is the hardest part and something I am still working on. Accepting that this is my life right now and I have to learn to understand and cope with this new me. I grieve for my former life and cycle through the stages of grief. When I reach acceptance, I feel at peace. Of course, I still cycle through the other stages at times - just waiting to get back to acceptance.

Target:

1. Rest for at least an hour a day, 7 days a week. Confidence: 10

2. Return to pool exercises, at least 3 times a week. Confidence: 8

3. Hire somebody to do housework. Confidence: 8

Note: As I said before, I always had a hard time managing stress and there are too many times that I don't know what to do. What do YOU do?

Gentle hugs and wishes for a stress-free day,
Jessica


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