3 Tips for Managing Anxiety If You Have AS
It's no secret that living with a chronic illness can be challenging—mentally and emotionally, as well as physically. I remember when I was first diagnosed, there was the mental stress of wondering if this would impact my ability to work and, subsequently, my financial stability. There was also the emotional stress of wondering if I could continue to perform daily tasks without assistance. Then, of course, there was the physical stress of pain management.
For anyone diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), the mental health challenges that can come with the condition are all too familiar. Unfortunately, one of those challenges that are pretty familiar to many is anxiety. Because every day with AS can look different, leading to stress that, if left unchecked, can interfere with our daily lives.
However, it's important to remember that there are healthy ways to manage our anxiety to live a whole life. Here are three tips to get started.
1. Remember that you're not alone.
Millions of people all over the world have AS, and many of them deal with anxiety daily. The critical thing to remember about stress is that we do not need to suffer in silence. Family and friends can be a big help, but they may not understand what we're going through. Reaching out to communities and support groups of other people with AS ensures you can speak with those who can relate to what you're going through. More importantly, communities have access to resources and solutions you might not know of. So if you're struggling, know that you're not alone—and help is available.
2. Keep in mind movement is good for the soul.
The key word here is movement and not exercise. As a health coach, I'm a proponent of gentle movement because I know how impactful it can be for our health. Specifically, when it comes to anxiety, simply moving our bodies can have tremendous benefits. Meditative movements like Qigong, Tai Chi, and Yoga are well-known to reduce stress and pain. However, don't dismiss the power of walking or even stretching. If you're struggling with anxiety, know that you don't need to engage in intense exercise to reap the benefits of movement.
3. Consider keeping your doctor in the loop.
As someone who has had my fair share of interesting experiences with medical professionals, speaking with your doctor about your anxiety may be easier said than done. Nevertheless, they are our doctors and should ensure we receive the best care. It will be harder for them to do that if they aren't aware of the struggles that we're going through. I've found that when I work with my doctors, I find practical solutions to treat my anxiety. For example, I've personally gone through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helped me develop skills to manage my anxiety. While CBT is not for everyone, your doctor can provide other options to help with managing anxiety. Thus, when you find that managing your stress is becoming too much, talk to your doctor about what you're going through.
It's not easy, but there are things that we can do to make managing anxiety a little bit easier. For me, it's about accepting that I will have good and bad days, being proactive in managing my stress levels, and reaching out for support to communities (like this) when I need it. So, don't suffer in silence. We care about you and want to support you!
And don't forget, we want to hear from you! What works for you? Share your tips below.
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