By Carla Schick
Stress is like a toxic, odorless gas that unknowingly overtakes its victims little by little until they succumb to its effects. Toxic stress levels can lead to depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer. Patients who are treated with immune globulin (IG) are particularly vulnerable because too much stress can lead to bouts of illness that can last for weeks, if not months. According to quotation anthologist Terri Guillemets, “Stress is the trash of modern life — we all generate it, but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” Since you can’t avoid all causes of stress, here are some suggestions from the Mayo Clinic for how you can “dispose” of stress.
Meditate on the small blessings that happened during the day, and write them down in a journal. Did a friend cook dinner for you when you weren’t feeling well? Were your infusion side effects finally minimized with the right combination of pretreatments? Did the person ahead of you in line at the grocery store allow you to check out first? The next time you’re feeling low, read through your journal entries to refresh your mind with positive thoughts and emotions.
Engaging in any form of physical activity is a wonderful way to refocus the mind and increase endorphin levels. An Australian research study showed that “aerobic exercise was effective, appropriate and feasible for reducing fatigue among adults with chronic autoimmune conditions.” Recommended exercises include low-impact aerobics, brisk walking, cycling and jogging to help improve your mood.
Instead of relying on isolation to cope with anxiety, set up a lunch date or coffee break with friends or family so that they can distract your mind and provide support. Another great way to reduce your stress levels is to connect with others who are facing similar circumstances. Sometimes the best stress reliever is a little commiseration with a fellow IG patient. Many have already benefited from the shared experiences, advice, compassion and friendship that they’ve found on IG Living’s Facebook page.
Hobbies can be a peaceful and fun distraction to relax a stressed mind. Anything that you enjoy doing, whether it’s listening to music, scrapbooking, sewing, reading, gardening or hiking, will help to transfer your thoughts to a tranquil, stress-free frame of mind by decreasing stress hormones and reducing muscle tension. Portable hobbies like knitting, crochet, jewelry making, blogging, sketching and playing games on your iPod are great ways to pass the time during an infusion, especially if receiving treatment is a source of anxiety.
Even though a good sense of humor isn’t going to cure chronic illness, a little laughter can help you to manage the ups and downs of ill health. Laughter lifts the spirits, increases blood flow and lightens your mental load, helping you to feel calm and refreshed. Remember that low stress levels contribute to living well, in spite of illness. Don’t allow toxic stress and anxiety to keep you from a relaxed frame of mind. Dispose of your stress!
For more tips on how to relieve stress, visit:
How do you “dispose” of stress?