Stress is unavoidable—but it is manageable.
“Among other factors, stress has been reported as the most frequent trigger for seizures in people with epilepsy.” – National Institutes of Health
The feeling of stress is something that all of us experience from time to time. As someone who has epilepsy, I’m constantly working on managing my stress to prevent seizures from escalating.
A person with epilepsy can face several stressors, including:
1. Uncertainty about the future
2. Unpredictability of the condition
3. Financial difficulties
There’s no silver bullet to eliminate these stresses permanently but there are tips to manage them.
9 Ways To Manage Stress:
Breathing exercises –
A de-stressing approach is the 4-7-8 breathing technique which involves controlled breathing and visualization.
- Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, behind your teeth and exhale.
- Inhale for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven (set your own pace).
- Exhale to a count of eight.
- Inhale again.
- Repeat steps 1 to 5 three more times.
Listen to relaxing music or sounds –
Research shows that listening to music can reduce stress by lowering the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
Try the BetterSleep app where you can mix and match over 150 soothing sounds to create your perfect soundscape. It’s an app that’s free to download and they offer a big part of their content and features for free. Available in the App Store and GooglePlay.
Prayer not only strengthens your relationship with God but can clear your mind, and provides you with spiritual comfort that can relieve stress. Challenge yourself to spend 5 minutes in prayer before even getting out of bed in the morning.
Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, can improve your quality of life and relieve stress. There have been consistent findings that people report feeling calmer after a 20- to 30-minute bout of aerobic exercise. Grab a walking buddy and hit the trails, pavement or a treadmill.
Stretching can relieve stress by relaxing tense muscles associated with mental tension. “It’s great to stretch every day, but at the minimum, do it a few times a week.” – Carol Ewing Garber, Ph.D., a professor of movement sciences at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Try these quick stretches for stress relief courtesy of EveryDay Health.
Journaling can reduce stress by serving as an escape or emotional release of negative thoughts and feelings. It can help to create order when the world feels like it’s in chaos.
If you find it hard to get started or just don’t know what to write, consider getting a guided journal with prompts. For example, if you want to tap into the power of daily gratitude, try a gratitude journal with prompts that make it easy to write and develop an attitude of gratitude. Same goes with self-care, health and wellness, and even goal setting. There are many beneficial uses for journals.
Laugh (even if it’s forced) –
A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
There’s evidence that even forced laughter can reduce our reaction to stress.
“It does this through an effect known as motion creates emotion theory. When you use the facial muscles involved in smiling and laughing, this sends feedback to the brain that then releases chemical messengers — for instance, serotonin — that improve our mood”, explains Dr Natalie van der Wal, an associate professor from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and an expert in cognitive and social psychology. It’s this response that’s used in laughter therapy.
So watch a funny movie or tv show. Look at a funny picture. Reach out to a friend who always makes you laugh, or just reminisce about a hilarious moment from your past.
Give yourself a hug –
It might sound silly . . . but self-hugs have very real benefits!
A 20-second hug increases levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin, which can reduce the harmful effects of stress.
Wrapping your arms around yourself sends a strong message to your body and your brain: I’ve got you, I love you, and you are okay.
Get a hug –
Along with wrapping your arms around yourself, a warm, reassuring embrace from someone else can also be a great feeling and stress reliever.
Do yourself a favor, and hug someone you love today and everyday.
What’s something that you enjoy doing that helps reduce or relieve your stress? Comment below.