We all have some amount of stress in our lives. We worry about a myriad of things on a day to day basis. Even someone who is generally healthy can develop headaches, ulcers and other physical symptoms when stress overtakes their lives. When you live with a chronic illness, there are not only additional stressors but additional dangers if the stress affects you physically. It is up to us to find a way to not let the amount of worry and stress debilatate us.
I have long been a what people think of as a classic workaholic and on top of that tried to be SuperMom. Impatient, competative, unable to relax and if not working, worrying about work, running from work to my child's activities and trying to raise him without letting my stress affect him. After my diagnosis, I read and researched, researched and read to find out as much as I can about Rheumatoid Arthritis and contributing factors. One of the things that was glaring out at me from most articles was how much stress can affect and possibly bring on flares.
It took a long time for me to step back. At the beginning I was determined not to let RA or anything else change my life. That determination caused flare after flare before I finally started listening to my body. I finally realized that I HAD to stop worrying about everything and letting it affect my health. If I didn't- I risked damaging my joints and muscles far more quickly. So how does a person like me make such a big change? I used my same determination to change my life.
1- I made a move that took me out of my "go-go-go" environment.
2- I started taking time off with no committments. First an hour, then two, then four and then days at a time.
3- I learned to stop and just breathe. Everything that you read about meditation tells you that the first step is to learn to breathe and focus on that. It really does make a world of difference.
4- I learned to listen to my body. If my body tells me that I am doing too much- I slow down. It is possibly the most important thing I have done.
5- I took a hard look at the priorities in my life and then restructured to fit those.
6- I let go of the little things. I realized that it is the little things that we let pile up on us that really can do the most damage.
There are several books that made a huge difference in my life to get to this point. I highly recommend them. Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat-Pray-Love , Elaine St. James Simplify Series to begin with. I also am a big fan of the Chicken Soup Series- they can help remind you what is important in the grand scheme of things.
These things have made a difference not only in my health but my happiness and my overall wellbeing. They have put me on the road to peace and though it is a long road- I feel much better about myself and my life. I cannot express my gratitude for these changes. Finding the ability to worry less has changed my life.