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De-Stress to Avoid Distress and Illnesses

Updated on September 10, 2020

Pain, suffering, anguish can all be tortures that we inadvertently inflict upon ourselves. This realization hit me like a boulder when I had to send my daughter away to her grandparents because I suddenly got shingles, or herpes zoster. Upon visiting my physician and an ophthalmologist, both concurred that the occurrence of this particular illness is most likely due to stress and fatigue. I couldn’t disagree with that. Prior to my sickness, I had been stressing about going back to work and leaving my nearly 2-month old daughter to a caretaker whom I still do not fully trust but who is the best among the three I previously tried. I also did not have enough rest since I was breastfeeding and had to wake up a couple of times each night to check on my baby’s needs. Thus, the virus found the opportunity to attack.

Now, sick and alone, I find the time to reflect and heal. I guess our bodies really have its innate wisdom that forces us to pace ourselves properly and regain balance. Looking back, if I had taken the time to take care of myself better, I would’ve been able to look after the ones I love more thoroughly. Like, maybe I should’ve gotten the massage and facial I promised myself after giving birth. Or I could’ve had my baby’s all-too-willing grandfather and grandmothers take care of her while my husband and I go out on a date. Instead, I wrapped myself around all the functions I believed a mother should do, forgetting myself and everything else in the process. However, with my baby away from me, I now realize how unhealthy, physically and psychologically, our whole routine was becoming. Revolving my life around my daughter was making it difficult for me to let go and entrust her to others and I was also making her too dependent on me. Unfortunately, I had to get sick to see this and it is my hope that those who read this will not have to have the same plight. Below are some illnesses that can be triggered or caused by stress and some advice on how to de-stress to avoid these.

Stress-Borne Illnesses

  1. Herpes Zoster is the one I contracted and is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chicken pox. The virus after having chicken pox remains latent in one’s body and is activated years after by a compromised immune system, fatigue, or psychological stress. It comes out as boils or rashes focused only on one side of the body.
  2. Colds are also often caused by fatigue, poor diet, and worrying.
  3. Circulatory problems, like stroke, are definitely a result of stress, which tighten the arteries and veins as response to the fight-or-flight complex.
  4. Diabetes may be exacerbated by stress since this can cause the blood sugar levels to rise or plummet.
  5. Diarrhea or constipation can also occur since our digestion can also be affected by high levels of stress.

6. Sexual dysfunction or loss of sex drive may also be a result of high stress levels.

Ways to De-Stress

  1. Spend time with your support network. Cuddle with your loved one, talk with a person who listens well, or go out and have fun with friends.
  2. Soak in the tub or take a warm bath.
  3. Try out mental relaxation techniques, such as positive imaging.
  4. Sip hot tea or drink warm milk.
  5. Exercise. Breathe.
  6. Pray or meditate.
  7. Listen to inspiring or relaxing music.
  8. Play with your pet.
  9. Get a massage.
  10. Sleep and eat properly.

Of course, each of us will have to find our own best way to deal with stress. Introverts would often feel better having their "alone" time while extroverts are more likely to prefer going out and doing something active. It would also help to think about your interests. Engaging in sports or cooking or arts depending on what drives or moves you will also be able to help you relax or cope with stress. In the end, all you really need to remember is to find time to love and appreciate yourself.


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