Stress and CLL
Stress can cause headaches, stomach pain, sleep issues, illness and depression especially for people with an impaired immune system like CLL patients.
You may notice symptoms of stress when disciplining your children, during busy times at work, when managing your finances, when coping with a challenging relationship. Stress is everywhere. While a little stress is OK – some stress is actually beneficial -- stress is what gets you to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of you. That's a good thing. Too much stress can wear you down and make you sick, both mentally and physically .The first step to controlling stress is to know the symptoms of stress, but recognising stress symptoms may be harder than you think. Most of us are so used to being stressed, we often don't know we are stressed until we are at the breaking point.
Stress is the body's reaction to harmful situations -- whether they’re real or perceived. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as "fight-or-flight,” or the stress response. It is how you protect yourself.
Symptoms of stress include:
- Becoming easily agitated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, and losing control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Low energy, depression, headaches
- Upset stomach, nausea and insomnia
- Frequent colds and infections
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgement, seeing only the negative side
- Either not eating or eating too much
- Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
Stress is a part of life but what matters most is how you handle it. The best thing you can do to prevent stress overload and the health consequences that come with it is to know your stress symptoms. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, seek medical advice. Many symptoms of stress can also be signs of other health problems. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and rule out other conditions. Carer burnout can be the result of the stress of caring for a loved one with a chronic illness. Sometimes the pressure of caring for someone can be extremely stressful. In order to prevent this it is essential to know how to manage your stress.
People can learn to manage stress and lead happier, healthier lives. But how do we keep stress at bay?
Relaxation techniques can really help with stress management. Relaxation is not just about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Meditation is one of the best ways to relax.
Meditation is an umbrella term for the many ways to a relaxed state of being. There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. All share the same goal of achieving inner peace. Ways to meditate can include:
Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.
In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. You broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions but let them pass without judgment.
This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qi gong (CHEE-gung) is part of traditional Chinese medicine.
This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts. In tai chi (TIE-chee), you perform a self- paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
You use a mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase repeatedly silently, to narrow your conscious awareness and eliminate all thoughts from your mind. You focus exclusively on your mantra to achieve a state of perfect stillness and consciousness.
You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As you move through poses that require balance and concentration, you're encouraged to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment. Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. It produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process results in enhanced physical and emotional well-being. Meditation also might be useful if you have a medical condition, especially CLL that may be worsened by stress. A growing body of scientific research supports the health benefits of meditation.
Here is an easy visualisation: Close your eyes and imagine that you are standing in the rain. Imagine that the top of your head is open and the rain flows into it, slowly filling up your head and then flowing down through your neck into your whole body. Choose a colour for the rain, a colour that makes you feel comfortable. If for example you choose silver, imagine that this sparkling silver rain is washing right through you, into every nook and cranny, clearing out all thoughts, all residues of old pain and anxiety. See them flowing out of your body through your feet into the ground and feel that slowly, slowly, very slowly the soothing silver rain fills up your whole body, making you completely calm and relaxed.