I’m a pretty laid back kind of a girl and when the going gets tough, I get going – to my bed with a book.

However, it seems that’s not the norm in society as stress usually sucks….. the very life out of people.

Stress stressors are peculiar and individualistic.   They are hard to define because what stresses me out is not necessarily what will stress you out. What’s universal is the effect excess stress has on our bodies – and it’s not good. The thing that’s so insidious about stress is that society has surreptitiously warmed to it and it’s almost become the new norm!

Stress isn’t bad for us, it is our emotional reaction to stress that causes all the bad stuff to happen in our bodies. Stress can be useful as it helps to get us out of danger and kicks our ass into flight or fight mode. At run or retaliate, the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol kick in and get us to do something, anything that will preserve our lives. The problem comes when these hormones become too much of a good thing and the reverse happens. Our lives then become dis-eased.

Recurring stress makes problems for the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory system and neuroendocrine system. It’s very destructive to the digestive and immune system, which needs to be strong and stable, especially for RA sufferers. Stress also activates depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and body pain. None of these on the must have list of an autoimmune victim.

Here’s what you can do to relieve stress.

  • Learn to recognise it for what it is. If you don’t know what you’re dealing with, how can you fix it?
  • Do what you can to remove stress triggers. If you know that heavy traffic will make you late for an appointment and being late stresses you out, then plan to leave earlier, take another route or another form of transport such as the train. Not rocket science that!
  • Be aware of what you focus on, for what you focus on is what you get more of. Instead of dwelling on negative things and how much they cause anxious moments for you, think on things that are good, pure, lovely and inspiring. Pray more. Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.
  • Move more. Get your blood pumping and the happy hormones and feel good endorphins released. Even a brisk walk around the block can do wonders.
  • Learn how to breathe properly. Slowly and deeply. Imagine you’re filling a large balloon in your tummy with air as you breath in to the count of five, hold till ten and breath out slowly to fifteen. Oxygen to the brain is very calming.
  • Listen to good music that soothes your soul.
  • Share your stress with someone. A friend, a counselor, a life coach who can help you overcome it with simple techniques.
  • Put your situation into perspective.
  • Look outward at and for others. Life is not about me but we. When you focus outwards on others, the bothersome inward becomes insignificant.