Stress, lupus and how not to let it rob you of your life!

Lupus, and other chronic illness have robbed you of a good part of your life. Does stress have to rob you of the rest? Briefly, I’ll discuss what stress is, how to keep it in perspective and ways to keep stress from controlling our lives. A situation is stressful, when we perceive that situation to be threatening to our well-being. Stress is a matter of perception; I might perceive a situation to be threatening; when you might not.

The stresses of yesteryear were mostly physical, like being attacked by a bear while hunting for the family dinner. The stressors of today are largely emotional. We don’t hunt for for food anymore; but things still cause stress. like a flat tire or the boss threatening our job. However, the response to stress is the same, whether it’s cause is physical or emotional.

The stresses of lupus are both physical and emotional. Physical stress might be having the body poked and prodded on a regular basis when we’re hospitalized. There is also the emotional stress of, ” Will it get worse and how?” “I long to be like other people and be active!” and my personal favorite, “But you don’t look sick!”

Physical or emotional, today or thousands of years ago, we respond to stress pretty much the same way: blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rates increase, glucose levels in the blood increase. Basically, our body diverts blood to the muscles and away from organs that don’t need it like the stomach. This is called the stress response and the exact physical reasons for it don’t need to be described here.

Because of increased glucose in the blood, the ability to fight infection is decreased in stressful times. When stress is prolonged, the constant release of glucose can contribute to the onset of diabetes. Stress can cause over-eating and underrating. Stress can result in smoking and all of the complications that may come with smoking. Stress contributes to hypertension and heart disease.

Because stress can wreck such havoc with our health, is it possible to change how stress affects us? Yes it is; but the first step is to recognize that we’ll never be able to be completely stress-free. Nor, do we want to.  Some stress is good, it’s motivating, warns us of danger and prompts us to act.

Most ”shoulds’ aren’t good for us, but one that is: we SHOULD start to incorporate wellness activities into our daily lives. This might mean participating in relaxation exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, visual imagery, yoga, and reframing how you look at a stressful situation. In another post, I’ll discuss reframing, but basically, ‘reframing’ is another way of looking at the same set of facts. (You’ve heard, “there must be two sides to every story…’)

I find music to be relaxing and listening to it takes me to another place. While I appreciate the voices of the singers, I’m not dwelling on my life and i don’t find myself saying, “Well, they’re lucky, they weren’t cursed with lupus.” I find myself acknowledging that they may have other struggles; and appreciating that they share their gifts with the rest of the world. Two pieces of music that have caught my attention are below. You wouldn’t believe it, but the little girl who sings isn’t much more than 12-if that and to see her perform…!

The second video is from Les Miserables and this gentleman’s voice, Alfie Boe is a something that i marvel at. Just when I think how badly I may ‘have it,’ I realize that I don’t know their struggles. Bottom line, they have such a gift to give and for a minute I forget my troubles and drop my self-pity at the door and again lose myself in their gifts.


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