Stress Relief for Chronic Illness: why do we need it?

Stress is a huge part of flare-ups for myself, and I’m sure for others with chronic illness. This article is an intro to why I believe stress relief and self-care are two things people with chronic disease should practice.

How stress affects me

I am not quite in remission, but my Crohn’s flare-ups have been few and far between lately.  Still, I think about my disease at all times of the day. When I wake-up, when I’m making breakfast, when I’m heading out to run errands, etc.  I am pretty much always thinking about how Crohn’s might affect my day. In big and little ways, my disease has trained me to think this way.

This does not mean I am negative or constantly anticipating the worst.  I have learned, usually the hard way, that I MUST prepare myself.  This can cause my body to be in a constant state of stress and tension.

Any of this sound familiar to you?  Does stress affect your life on a daily basis?

What is stress?

Merriam-Webster.com defines Stress as “the physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”.  Let me just repeat that last part, “and may be a factor in disease causation”.  Wow.

I know, I know.  There are a lot of people out there who have a lot of stress and don’t have a chronic illness or disease.  That doesn’t mean they won’t, eventually.  Leaving the discussion of what caused your or my chronic illness to another time; what is it about stress that affects those of us who already have a chronic disease?

Why is stress so bad?

In this super scientific article from sciencedaily.com, the authors (scientists) state that “chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response” and this “can promote the development and progression of disease”.  The article goes on to discuss how bad increased inflammation is to our bodies, but this article goes even further.  The second article even goes into how spices like turmeric might help control inflammation.  This is something I discussed in another article on turmeric titled “Can You Add Turmeric To That?“.  Suffice to say, those of us with chronic disease really should try to reduce and limit the amount of stress our body is exposed to as one way for us to help keep inflammation down.

Let’s get rid of stress!

Now that we know why stress is bad for us, my next article will discuss what works for me and what is recommended by healthcare professionals to reduce the effects of stress.

Do you have a chronic illness and have noticed that stress affects you in a specific way?   I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave a comment below, or email me here.

Till next time!

Colleen

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