Here’s 5 areas to focus on when combating stress during an autoimmune disease
There has been little investigation into the role of stress in PPP, but in one small study (Saez-Rodriguez 2002 ) anxiety scores were found to be higher in patients with PPP than in control patients. The authors suggested that stress and the worsening of PPP may be related. According to this study most autoimmune diseases are triggered by a major stressor. In fact, 80% of people report uncommon emotional stress before disease onset.
At the time I was diagnosed with PPP I went through a really stressful time in my life. I was working full time in a very stressful and negative environment, as well as being a mother, taking care of a toddler, and I didn't sleep well. I remember back than waking up in the mornings with an abnormal high pulse and having pains in my heart terrified with fear what the day would bring. Not a very good place to be in if you ask me. I silly enough choose to ignore all this and the signs my body was sending me. I know for sure that stress was one of my triggers to onset PPP . At the time I wasn't eating properly which meant my immune system wasn't functioning at the level it should. I had also been on several antibiotic courses due to repetitive strep throat infections.
Somehow I do think my body would have been able to deal with the poor lifestyle I lead if it wasn't for my high stress levels. There's a lot of people with a poor diet and who's been on antibiotics and they still don't get sick with an autoimmune disease, as for myself in my past. Today I found that even with a good diet, I can notice symptoms creeping back where I can see the beginning of the formation of the pustules (blisters) while under the stress for a prolonged time. Stress causes havoc in the body and indirectly affects the immune system with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. In a study they concluded chronic psychological stress is associated with a greater risk of depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, upper respiratory
infections, and poorer wound healing.
I do believe stress is the first trigger that needs to be dealt with when healing from PPP. Diet is equally important but will not have any major impact if the stress levels are not dealt with first. We are all different and the stress factors varies. The important first step is to Identify what you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a fight with your family? Or have you been through a major trauma in life, such as losing somebody you love, a divorce, or are you wrestling with financial struggles, loneliness or illness?
I want to give you some simple steps to take to reduce stress in your life whatever causes it,
1. Remove the causes of stress
This one might seem obvious, but might not be so when in the middle of a life situation that seem unchangeable. In my case I was drowning in a workload which I wasn't able to manage. I was working in international company dealing with customer complaints. At the end of every day I was too drained to do anything about the situation. Lucky for me they let everybody in my office go due to relocating the office to another city. At the time I was terrified but it turned out to be the best kick in the bum I had. I ended up getting a better job with better pay with no stress what's so ever. Sometimes you need to think about yourself and what's best for you....actually this should be the case most of the time. Find a way to reduce the stress factors in your life, you probably already know which ones they are. If you're dealing with stress due to trauma, divorce or the loss of a loved one, the chances you are able to handle this on your own might be slim. I highly advise you to reach out for professional help. If there is no budget to see a professional, do join support forums on the internet, they are great most of the time. Sometimes just talking to somebody else in the same situation can be stress reducing.
2. Listening to ambient relaxation music or affirmation audio
This might seem a bit hippyish but it does work! The soothing power of music is well-established. It has a unique link to our emotions, so can be an extremely effective stress management tool. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet music. This type of music have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. When I'm in work I just put my headphones on to block out all the noise around me. If I'm stressed I put on relaxation music and instantly feel calmer. Sometimes when I have periods of feeling insecure I listen to affirmation audio too and notice a huge change in just a couple of weeks in my state of mind.You'll find it all on youtube.
We all been told meditation is important but for most people that might seem a bit foreign to do on your own. I highly recommend yoga! Yoga is exercise combined with relaxation and mediation. Anyone can do it to their own capability young as old. Practices like meditation, hypnosis, guided imagery, yoga, deep breathing produce immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function. I highly recommend the documentary e-motion for more info on the subject
4. Get rid of noise and negativity
Make a list of all situations, people, events, etc. that cause you to react negatively. Try to eliminate your exposure or modify your interaction to each one. Being aware of your stress triggers in advance can help you better respond, rather than react when the situation arises or the person is present. The antidote to negative or unproductive thinking is awareness. Start monitoring your thoughts. Keep a journal of your habitual negative thoughts. Choose to replace them with more realistic and positive ones
Take a walk. It doesn't have to be long, and it doesn't have to be fast. But get outside or to an indoor mall or museum and walk for at least 20 minutes. Studies find such moderate exercise can help with the stiffness and pain of autoimmune diseases and improve your mood. Preferably do this on your own with or without headphones, it can be very meditative.
Please let me know what you do to deal with stress, share your comments below.
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