6 Ways to Cope with Stress when you Have a Chronic Illness

Chronic stress can cause extreme duress on the fibro body and your adrenal system.

Managing my fibromyalgia is a careful balancing act of self-care. This involves eating healthy, getting adequate sleep, working out, and taking time for me. Living with fibromyalgia means that normal, every day stressors can place an additional hardship on the fibro body. So when you are faced with an extended period of stress – bad flare or other health crisis, work deadlines, family emergencies, or simply just getting through the holidays – you can place an extreme amount of duress on your body and your adrenal system.

“Adrenaline is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, especially in conditions of stress, increasing rates of blood circulation, breathing, and carbohydrate metabolism and preparing muscles for exertion.”

You can feel this when your heart starts to race or your hands or body sweats. Adrenaline is also responsible for that fight-or-flight mechanism that can give people extraordinary strength in times of crisis. And an over-exposure to the stress hormones can tamper with your overall well-being.

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Love Yourself

Lately I haven’t been loving myself enough. I have been running on empty, with “no spoons” left to give. No energy to blog, no creativity left to give, and dealing with my messy life.

So taking a few days to enjoy a getaway with my family last week was definitely the self-care, self-preservation, and refueling I needed. Being outdoors is my happy place, as I believe it is holistically therapeutic to be outside.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

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The Challenge of Slowing Down

I have had difficulty accepting that I cannot do what I once could. I am not the same person I once was.

Life in general requires overcoming challenges and obstacles of many types. Life with fibromyalgia introduces its own share of challenges: lack of energy, lack of sleep, chronic pain being the most prevalent.  These things can change who you are and how you approach life. What once was a simple task, such as getting out of bed in the morning, can now be a daily struggle.

In the years since my diagnosis, my biggest challenge has been SLOWING DOWN. I have had difficulty accepting that I cannot do what I once could. I am not the same person I once was. Type A personalities like myself prefer to be in the game rather than sitting on the sidelines.

Adopting health strategies such as a clean diet, regular workouts, and supplements, has helped lessen the daily pain and limited my “flares” of my fibromyalgia. It has allowed me to maintain a moderately active lifestyle. And then I begin to think: Maybe I am OK. Maybe I am in some sort of remission. Maybe I can push myself just a little harder. And that thinking usually ends in a crash and burn, i.e. fibro flare and bed rest. Slowing down, resting allows the body to recover from the stresses put upon it. Without a recovery period, we can do our bodies more harm than good.

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Self-Care Self-Check

“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.”

Back in January I wrote about the importance of self-care and some things I vowed to work on myself. As May is Fibromyalgia Awareness month, I decided it was time to check in and see just how good or bad I am doing on my own self-care. Practice what you preach, and all. I have found more success following strategies for healthy living, than I ever did taking a pill that the doctors prescribed. So taking care of myself has to be my number one priority, in order to minimize my fibro-flares. You cannot, after all, drink from an empty cup, and having a flare can often feel like you are running on empty.Cannotdrink

Here’s what I wanted to improve on: Continue reading “Self-Care Self-Check”