28 Apr 2015
Managing Your Stress, part 1
“Stress, in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself.” Hans Selye
Remember what I said in Manage Your Stress or it will manage you about perceived stress?
But what if we create these “dangerous situations” in our minds? What if our constant worrying or “stressing” about situations actually undermines our health? I want you to think about how these situations play a role in your endometriosis. When I was struggling to bring my inflammation under control, I could actually feel my side start to hurt in direct response with how stressed I felt. It usually went something like this: “I have an exam this week. Shoot, I can’t study for the test yet because I have a paper due. But I haven’t done any research for the paper and I don’t have time today or tomorrow because I have to meet with my study group to prepare for the group project.” I could feel my heart rate increasing; my heart started sinking and before I knew it my side started to hurt and my pain returned. As a teenager, I did not have the medical understanding of stress that I have now as a pharmacist, but I could clearly see the correlation between my panicking brain and my pain level.
While I was trying to reverse my 3rd flare-up, I had to learn how to put things into perspective. I discovered the value of breaking big projects down into bite size pieces that weren’t overwhelming and did not cause a sympathetic response. I had to re-train my brain not to perceive my list of things to do as a dangerous situation. I had to let go of certain obligations like swim team because my life was too stressful between practices and studying. Don’t get me wrong, many people can handle numerous commitments well because it doesn’t feel stressful to them. Their body doesn’t go into panic mode. Unfortunately, my body was a little too good at panicking.
Part of ending endometriosis is learning where your perceived stress exists in your life. Having excess stress in your life will raise one of your key stress hormones: cortisol. When cortisol goes up, it sends a signal to the troops that your body needs all hands on deck to help your body run away from the tiger. However you aren’t running away from a tiger, you are just trying to manage your life. Managing your life with high cortisol levels means inflammatory signals are constantly being sent all over your body. Inflammation helps your endometrial nodules grow bigger and stay inflamed. Inflammation keeps your body in a fight or flight state of being and keeps you suffering.
Find out more of what you can do to manage your stress in Managing Your Stress, part 2