The Importance of Managing Stress

Kellie McRae avatar

by Kellie McRae |

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Recently, I realized my life needed to be assessed. I have learned over the small period of time that I have been battling lupus that stress is a huge trigger. My body is always willing to hop all over stress, causing a flare of pain.

I used to think I handled stress very well, but in actuality, I just believe in getting problems solved as quickly as possible. The new pains that pop up in my body when I have stressful situations let me know that I was not handling my stress as well as I’d always thought.

I am also a bit of a workaholic, especially now that I have no traditional form of income. The stress levels and the way I work to earn a living can both be quite trying. Lately, I have had a particularly painful flare, and it caused me to stop and review the things that were hanging off the ledge in my life. I sat down one evening and realized that if I didn’t want to keep hurting, I needed to find a pressure release valve.

I’ll admit it; I am a social media junkie. I tried to find a group to help me, but they were all on social media platforms. I took to my social media and said “Guys and gals, I know you all are so accustomed to me providing positive messages, a few laughs and such. I don’t want you to worry, but I am taking a break.” Then I went away for many days. (I’m still on the break at the time of this writing.) I then put everything that I felt needed some serious attention on a piece of paper, and began a game plan to knock some things down or eliminate them altogether.

In the midst of that, I did a few other things for myself and practiced self-care. If you find that you need some self-care time, maybe you can incorporate some of these ideas as well.

  1. Meditation: I live in Thailand, where yoga and meditation is a way of life. You can find guided meditations online. Most cities have some yoga studios, or you can just give a go on your own. Start with deep breathing exercises and visualizations. I know this may sound a little hokey, but it really does help with relaxation. Breathe in deeply through your nose until you can’t breathe in anymore, and then exhale slowly from your mouth. Then envision a beautiful day where everything goes your way.
  2. Go for a walk: Sometimes this is a serious challenge, but keep in mind that you’re not doing this for fitness. You’re doing it to get out among laughing kids, smiling faces and a little nature. You can make a little route where there are some benches, edges of water fountains and coffee shops for breaks.
  3. Keep a journal: I have been a journal keeper since I was a kid. For as long as I can remember, they have helped me through some pretty tough times. Being able to really pour out my thoughts without worry of judgment is HUGE. Also, being able to look back at things you thought you’d never make it through, and seeing how you were victorious, is helpful during some of the toughest times.
  4. Listen to music: They say music calms the savage beast. Grab your headphones, turn the music up to a safe level that allows you to engulf yourself. The pain doesn’t go away, but the things that you may have been stressing about melt away for a little while, again allowing you to relax. I personally think the more relaxed you are when tackling an issue, the more clarity you will have.  Keep in mind that these tips are not about pain management; they are about stress management.
  5. Watch a funny movie: Laughter is the best medicine. It’s a perfect stress release valve. I have a Netflix account. It’s the only way I watch TV here. If you are looking for something silly, funny and about a woman overcoming strange obstacles, then you might want to check out The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This show is an unlikely favorite of mine. It makes me laugh, and her resilience is encouraging, even if the show is silly.

I hope these stress management tips help you. They sure do me a world of good. I am feeling much better than I was when I first decided to take some self-care time. When you decide to take time, make sure it’s truly for you, not for your chores, your family or other things that are potential causes of your stress. Handle the issues, but in the midst, take time for you. Take care!

Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.