Today is national stress awareness day not that people with myasthenia need to be made aware of the dangers it brings. MGers learn fast that stress can be similar to intense exercise – when your muscles are tense it can increase muscle weakness. However unlike exercise that can be avoided, stress is not something we choose. It surrounds our daily lives and, unless you live in a meditation camp in the wilderness, the key to limiting the damage of stress is to focus on how to manage it.
Odd that today, as I’m writing this I’m feeling zen. After 5 days in Edinburgh full of long lies, walks, good food, quality time with people I love and even a spa afternoon, stress feels like a distant memory. That’s because these things are all coping strategies for me as well as visiting my favourite pubs where I’m pictured above.
Here are five things I do to manage stress:
When working the kind of hours I do, rest first and foremost is essential to reduce stress as it is a very tiring emotion. But I don’t find that it alone can take away the tightness I get when feeling stressed.
2. Talking about why I’m stressed
I’m lucky to have people in my life who not only have the capacity but also the capability to talk about things I’m feeling stressed about. On most occasions, this makes the stress more manageable. Just talking helps me figure out possible solutions.
If I didn’t have people to talk to and struggling to cope, I would definitely reach out to call one of the stress helplines. Knowing the immense impact one conversation with a stranger can have from Childline, I wouldn’t hesitate in giving that option a try.
3. Talking about other things
A technique I find useful at work if I’m feeling stressed is to go for a chat with a colleague. It can be a 2 minute conversation about anything but that little perspective break helps me focus better and also helps build relationships around the office.
4. Taking breaks – active if possible
I used to be the kind of person who would work right through lunch – those days are gone. A proper lunch break is vital for me keeping my stress levels balanced and I try whenever possible to make it an active break whether that’s going for a walk outside, heading to a gym or to a class. No matter how stressed I am beforehand, I always go back with a clearer mind.
5. Writing down feelings and options
I’ve always been someone who thinks clearest when writing thoughts and feelings out. This trick definitely works with situations that make me feel stressed. I write everything down and then try to think about a range of possible things that could help. This way I take a more thorough look at the reasons why I’m feeling that way and a more active role in trying to tackle it.