Stress is a fact of life. I say it’s a sad fact of life. I hate it. When I get stressed, I feel butterflies in my stomach. Nothing feels right. Although we all feel it, it can be hard to define. Stress is our personal response to ‘stimulating factors’ like noises, situations, chemicals, relationships, etc. These stressors tend to cause tension, distress and disruption in our day-to-day lives.
Chronic illnesses are a major cause of stress and stress can cause many illnesses ranging from colds to cancer. Yes, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are often linked to stressful events or trauma. Many of us with these conditions certainly have a hard time handling stress. I know I do. It stinks because I’m a stress magnet – at least, I feel that way sometimes.
Here are a few things we can all try when stress seems to get the best (or at least the better) of us.
Choose to be positive. Hey, I’m not insulting anyone here. (At least not directly or on purpose.) Let’s face it! It’s hard to be positive when you’re dealing with something as negative as the pain and exhaustion of FMS/CFS. However, an attitude shift can go a long way in helping you to feel better. If you acting negative and think negative, you inevitably feel more stress. That makes it even harder to relax. So, choose to feel better and you will start to feel better (at least a little bit).
Practice relaxation techniques. These include meditation, deep breathing, repeating mantras and much more. I often just say “Peace” or “Help Me” to get me through a difficult time. It’s calming. Just find what works best for you. And remember – you really can’t do it wrong, you type-A personalities, you!
Seek out support. When we get stressed out, many of us turn inward and suffer in silence. It’s like we’re afraid of burdening others with well, our burdens. However, talking things out with friends, family, clergy, a support group or a professional can really help you put things into perspective. When you know that you’re not alone, you’ll feel less stress. It’s almost a guarantee.
Be gentle with yourself. People with FMS/CFS are among the kindest, gentlest people in the world – TO OTHERS. To ourselves, we’re often harsh and, at times, downright abusive. Think of how you’re treating yourself and tune into your self-talk. Are you acting like your own worst enemy? If you are, then well stop it. (I have to listen to this advice myself!) Treat yourself like the precious being that you are and your stress levels will reduce almost magically.
Take baby steps. Let’s face it. You won’t immediately go from being a stress bug to the Dalai Lama. It just doesn’t happen that quickly. You have to learn new skills and new attitudes. Those take time; but, they are so worth it to improving the quality of your life and reducing your stress.