The 30 Day Chronic Illness Challenge was created by @cfs_zombie.  I learned about it when someone reblogged it onto my Tumblr dashboard.  Each day, there is a brand new writing prompt.  All topics focus on chronic illness and/or what it is like to live with a chronic illness.

Day 29: What has helped you cope with the stress of this lifestyle?

Everyone copes with stress in their own ways.  Ultimately, you just need to find something that works for you and stick with it until it stops working.  Your choices may be completely different from mine – and that’s fine.

I think that most people who are healthy do not realize how stressful it can be to go through life with a chronic illness (or with several of them).  The exceptions are those who love someone who has a chronic illness and who have to watch their loved one struggle with tasks that most people can do effortlessly.

Things that help me cope with the stress of having chronic illnesses:

1. Showers – I’m gonna wash those allergens right outta my hair….  The steam from the shower can sometimes help me to breathe a little bit better.

2. Acupuncture – It helps with many things, including stress

3. GABA – It stands for gamma-Aminobutyric acid.  It is a substance that is naturally found in the body.  I am taking it as a supplement for the times when I am completely stressed out and cannot calm down.  My acupuncturist suggested it.  She knows about all of the other medications that I take.  I would highly recommend that a person who is interested in taking GABA supplements speak with his or her doctor first.

4. Gluten-free foods – OMG, I get to eat something that won’t hurt me!

5. Hugs – Who doesn’t need a hug every now and then?  Hugs (and cuddles) help our bodies release oxytocin. It is a hormone that makes people (and some animals) feel good.

6. Naps – There are times when I am so sick that my body pretty much compels me to take a nap. Ever seen those videos of kittens that fall asleep standing up?  That’s similar to how things work for me.  I always feel better after a good nap.

7.  Medicine bag –  I carry all of my medication with me wherever I go.  It’s not a purse – it’s a medicine bag!  Having my Epi-Pen, right there with me, makes me feel a little less stressed about going outside.

8. Video games – There are days when I am completely frustrated because I am sick, again, due to something that is beyond my control.  I’ve found that the best way to deal with that stress is to play a video game and slaughter a bunch of pixels.

9. Writing – There is something about writing that makes the rest of the world disappear.  I can write for hours without noticing time passing by.  Writing allows me to “leave” my body (so to speak) on days when I am incredibly sick and/or in pain.  Some of my writing is paid work – and making money is another good way to deal with stress.

10. “Reality” TV shows – When I’m having a really difficult and stressful day, and can’t get anything done due to bad health, it makes me feel stressed.  It also makes me feel rather “worthless” because I want to be able to get things done.  Something about “reality” TV shows, about people with problems that are way worse than mine, helps me to release some stress.  Things could be worse (but they aren’t)!

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