3 Ways to Reduce Stress in Epilepsy

A red pencil, underlining the word "STRESS".

Note: This post was originally published in September 2018.

I’ve been meaning to write another post about anxiety. But I was too anxious.

The free-floating anxiety that I’ve had since March has been getting worse and worse. Finally, a few weeks ago I actually had to take time out from work. And I did have to take some Klonopin for anxiety once or twice. I didn’t have any seizures because of it, but there were a couple of times I needed my emergency medications. Which made me – guess what? Anxious.

I’ve been fine since coming back to work, but it’s made me realize that anxiety is much more present to me, and much worse for my epilepsy, than I had thought. The thing about anxiety is, it doesn’t have to be about anything.  I can go from being anxious about work to being anxious about whether my anxiety will give me seizures to being anxious about my anxiety, to simply being anxious. And anxiety, like any form of stress, can lead to seizures.

So what can you do to help anxiety when it’s not about anything? Well, remember that anxiety is a form of stress.  There are good and bad ways of handling stress. Here are three good ones:

Go For A Walk

If you notice yourself becoming stressed, one way to beat the stress is simply to leave the situation. This may take you away from an immediate stressor. It also sets your mind on another task. When you have something else to do, your mind can reset itself and refocus. That can decrease anxiety and stress.

Dig A Hole

Seriously. Dig. Paint a wall. Chop down a tree. Garden. Knit. Do something involving physical activity. If you’re focused on your body, your focus isn’t on what your brain is doing. Physical activity can really calm you down.

Shut Your Eyes And Breathe

You’re in the office, or at the doctor, or about to give a presentation. You can’t just get up and go for a walk. And there’s nothing to dig or chop. So don’t. Instead, close your eyes and breathe in slowly. In and out slowly for maybe 30 seconds or so will help. When you’re stressed, your body can get tense, and that can prevent you from getting enough oxygen. Get it back. Close your eyes to take your focus off your immediate surroundings, and focus on the automatic business of your body. Fill yourself with air and you’ll feel better.

There are more things you can do, too. Mindfulness practices, Youtube guided meditations, all things that can help. If you have epilepsy, you need to be aware of all these things more than most. They can affect your health in ways you don’t think about.

“Stress” photo by Pedro Figueras from Pexels. Cat photos copyright 2017 Matthew Gutting.

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