Stress…my 2015 has been filled with anxiety. My husband had just landed a new job in a new location. Not only a new location, but a new state. Not a next door state, but a halfway-across-the-nation state. So after being in a wheelchair for the past 5 years, suddenly my safety net of family and friends would be taken away from me. There were the jobs of organizing our home to be put up for sale, finding another handicapped-accessible home in our new state, finding new doctors, dentist, hairdresser… you know where I am going with this. It is stressful enough being an able-bodied person but doing this in a wheelchair makes it somewhat more difficult. But, so far, my experience has been remarkable.
We moved from the east coast of Virginia to Texas. The 24-hour drive to Texas began and we needed to find hotels, across the country, with roll-in showers during the journey. Not difficult, but time consuming and because we were in our vehicle for many hours each day, I donned those hateful TEDS and swallowed my baby aspirin to combat DVTs. Not only did we have to deal with locating accessible hotels, but we drove through the snow… in February. Yes, Texas received snow in February, and “Texas” and “snow” should not be in the same sentence but that’s another story. This story leads me into this topic of discussion…sitting in a wheelchair, stress-related symptoms, and how to relieve that stress.
Stress is defined as the body’s method of reacting to a challenge. No kidding! There are many other physiological definitions, but let’s stick with this one. You may ask, “How did you handle the stress?” Well, for me, I took literally one day at a time. Actually, 5 minutes at a time because more than a day at a time would have pushed me over the edge. I made many, many “to-do lists” and jumped (or rolled) over each hurdle as it came up. My one and only goal during this ordeal was to remain healthy because I am well aware of the fact that stress can contribute to illness.
The Cleveland Clinic defines stress as “any stimulus, such as fear or pain that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.” We all experience stress in our everyday lives. Commitments to work or family life, time pressures, financial pressures and difficulties in personal relationships can all be important sources of stress. As the definition implies, stress upsets the normal equilibrium or balance in one’s life.
A person’s response to the stress of physical illness varies tremendously and in large part depends on his or her own personality style and social supports, otherwise known as our safety net. It is known, for example, that certain diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, peptic ulcer disease, or cardiac disease can worsen with mental stress. While it is not clear that stress causes these diseases, it is clear that these and probably many other illnesses are influenced by stress.
Newer information supports the idea that not only does physical illness cause stress, but stress may bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases. When a person is scared, his or her blood pressure and pulse increase. Stress can also lead to common symptoms like headache, chest pain, or backache.
By asking my limited mobility girlfriends, “How do you relieve yourself of stress?” I received a multitude of ideas. They suggested baseball games, concerts, listening to music, massages, cuddling with pets, mindless TV watching, fishing, exercise, scrapbooking, and wheelchair runs. Great ideas and one also mentioned that it is “difficult to shut off the brain at night”. So what are some ideas to help shut off the brain when other methods aren’t working to help relieve stress?
Here are some helpful ideas to turn off the brain from Healthline.com:
- According to Healthline, “listening to music” is a great way to reduce stress. As Healthline explains “Playing calm music has a positive effect on the body and the brain and it could lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress.”
- If you are stressed, Healthline also recommends giving a call to one of your friends because it’s a key aspect of maintaining your health if you are experiencing stress.
- Don’t forget to “eat right,” Healthline says!
- How about getting some exercise and plenty of sleep? Healthline recommends these as solutions to stress also. And it’s really simple to sit and be fit!
Stress… it can make you sick. Actually, I stayed healthy during our relocation—it was my husband who was affected by the stress and it made him ill. But living life while sitting in a wheelchair is no different when it comes to relieving stress than being able-bodied. Stress is stress. So try following these key points to remain FIT, FABULOUS, and STRESS-FREE!
The Rollin RN, Patty Kunze, RNC, BSN
You can also visit Patty’s Facebook page, “The Rollin RN”
For questions, you can “Ask Patty”
Diseases and conditions. Obtained March 19, 2015 from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Stress_and_Physical_Health
10 simple ways to relieve stress. Obtained April 13, 2015 from http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/10-ways-to-relieve-stress.
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