Handling Stress and Negativity with an Autoimmune Disease

I want to talk to you today about handling stress as somebody that has an autoimmune disease.

Ever notice at the doctor's office, and the nurse is going through the list of questions and then they get to, "Are you stressed?" It's like, kind of laughable at this point, right? They're asking, but you both know, everyone's got a high level of stress these days. We used to wear that as a badge of honor, right? Like, "I'm so stressed because I'm so busy, because I'm so important, and I've got all these amazing cool things to do." Well, that little thing could have been a contributing factor to the reason why you have an autoimmune disease today.

We don't like stress.

It needs to go hit the high road.

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Obviously, there's going to be stress in your life, but we need to learn how to manage it so that it doesn't knock you on your butt. The first thing that you need to do is learn what your triggers are. Everyone has different things that stress them out, and they're also on different levels. Is it the news? Is it a messy house? Is it a messy marriage? Is it messy money? Is it parenting? Tension in friendships? Is it that your schedule and your calendar are completely packed to the brim? So, you've got to take an audit of the stress that you're feeling and look at the ones that you can control. There are some that you can control easier than others, right? Like, you can control a packed calendar a lot more than you can control a major illness and your family. 

Eliminate tasks from your day and calendar.

Start with the ones that you can control; hand over volunteer positions, cut out extra activities. Treat yourself to someone that cleans your house, or the online ordering at the grocery store. Start there. Start handing over chores to the children. That was my favorite one!

Control how and when you hear stressful information.

Then you want to move on to other areas, like news. Look for a buffer. Maybe have your significant other tell you the things that you really need to know. If you want to follow the news stories yourself, you need to control when and how they're delivered to you. Don't allow apps and websites to just ping you and alert you with news stories as they come along. When you're in a good space you look up the news or know you need to get into a good space before the evening news comes on. However, you digest tuff information, change it and pivot the way you're getting that information so that you're in control, and that you're in a good space to receive that news when it happens.

Pick your battles.

If you are an advocate for a lot of things, you might need to look at supporting one or two main causes. There are so many needs out in the world, and we all want to do so many things for so many different charities, non-profits, and just people that need help. Try to pick one or two areas that you're going to help with and stay there. Stay in that lane and do those well. It seems like it's kind of counterintuitive because you want to give to a lot of things, but this way you're preserving yourself and you're helping greatly in those one or two areas. It's the same old adage, you've got to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. So, if you spread yourself too thin, you're not going to be helping that much anyway, and it's going to stress you out and you don't want to do that.

Know how you will handle conflict

before it happens.

 The next area that you want to look at is how do you handle conflict? Some people really need to talk about it right away. They need to get the conflict talked about, handled, managed, and then move on. Some people need to sit, think about it, maybe stew, calm down, and then they can address it in a calm manner. Whatever side you're on with that, it's totally okay. That's just the way you handle things, but know that about yourself and honor it. If you are someone that really, really needs to just calm down and sit and think about things before you talk about it, and you have somebody that really, really, really wants to solve the conflict right away, just go ahead and say, "If you could really just hold on a minute and let me sit on this for a while, I'd love to settle this with you tomorrow," or vice versa. If you are somebody that really likes to handle things right away, just go ahead out and reach out to that person and say, "You know, this is something that I would love to handle right away. Is there any way we can talk about this right now?"

A big pro tip from me is handling the small things right away.

They might seem small. For example, "That was a weird comment. Was she joking? Did she really mean that? Like, was she offended? Did I do something?" Don't let that stuff stew. You might let it go in a couple of days, but you're spending time on that right now. Do yourself a favor, reach out to your friend and just clear it up. That way, number one, you are settling the issue and there's no stress, you know exactly where you stand. Number two, you are practicing for in case anything big comes up. You and that other person are practicing that dialogue of, "Hey, I've got an issue, let's talk about it," You get X, Y, and Z, fixed, so you're actually making that friendship and bond stronger instead of worrying about making it less stable. So again, it may seem counterintuitive but it totally makes sense in the end, and it saves you stress.

You may need to cut the cord on a relationship.

Then, understand that sometimes there are things in relationships that are just too toxic, and you might need to step away from that. It might be a friend, it might be someone you volunteer with, it might be a parent that is at an activity you go to a lot. It may be something as severe as your job. Just know that there's always another way. I know that when it gets to something as big as a job, or parenting, or marriage, it seems like, whoa, those are things that you're just kind of stuck in. Number one, you can replace a job. Number two, there are so many different ways to work on a marriage. Parenting, there are so many different techniques. So, reach out, find those resources, and work on those things instead of letting them be less than stellar, right? Nobody's perfect, nothing is perfect, but don't let it be a huge source of your stress.

What if stress has already hit or you have an unavoidable issue?

Fruits, veggies and berries baby! I have helped the physical toll that stress has taken on my body by flooding it with fruits, veggies, and berries. When I know a busy or stressful time is coming up or I find myself in the middle of one, I will up what I normally take. Do you want to know what the best thing about that is? IT'S JUST FOOD!

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