Stress is present in all of our lives. Whether you’re in a high-pressure job or juggling children’s activities and school, there’s bound to be times where you’re overwhelmed and stressed out.
Stress is hands-down my biggest symptom trigger when it comes to MS, and when my symptoms flare up, it’s a reminder that I need to slow down. Not only does stress and anxiety make my symptoms flare but stress has been linked to relapses so it’s essential to manage it.
For me, stress most often leads to:
Numbness / tingling. I most commonly experience numbness in my body, particularly in my hands, arms and legs (only my left), that’s often accompanied by an ongoing tingly sensation. I can’t even count the amount of times at work I was managing a project with multiple stakeholders and coordinating tight timelines, and all of a sudden I would feel my head tingling. It’s like my body recognizes the stress I feel before I even do sometimes. It’s crazy.
Headaches. I’ve luckily never been someone to experience chronic headaches or migraines but that has changed lately. I’ve had more in the last month than I’ve had in years. And they’re horrible. I feel like my head is being pushed together on each side, and there’s a constant fog that clouds my thoughts.
My vision. After having optic neuritis, my vision has never gone back to normal. But my sight gets worse when I am overwhelmed and stressed out. I remember the days following Chloé’s birth when motherhood was so new, my vision would become blurry and within 20 minutes would go back to normal.
While I wouldn’t categorize these symptoms as horrible (well, except the headaches sometimes), they are constant reminders that I need to figure out how to manage my stress better. Stressful situations are inevitable so I need to learn how to cope which will become a focus over the next few months.
I just read this interesting article about the scary things that happen to your brain when you’re stressed and it had a few proven recos for managing stress, which I’ve listed below.
Exercise: Even something as simple as walking for 30 minutes has been found to help relieve stress.
Meditating: Self admittedly, I haven’t tried this (although I know I need to). Here are 8 Mini Meditations to banish stress from your brain in case you’re interested.
Sleep: Stick to a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week and aim for 8 hours a night.
What else works for you for controlling stress? I’m thinking of trying meditation… stay tuned.