The Stress Flare

I’ve been having trouble sleeping at night. I’ve been stressed, and not only am I struggling to quiet my mind enough to find deep sleep, but I’m tossing and turning with pain brought on by a flare.

We live in a hustle and grind culture.

We live in a society that praises losing sleep to get ahead.

We live in a world where being anxious and stressed is normal and acceptable.

I live in a world where stress is a major trigger for a flare

And because of it, I’m realizing that my world doesn’t mesh well with everyone else’s.

I constantly find myself justifying actions to reduce stress in my life- but shouldn’t that be something we’re all striving for? Shouldn’t that be viewed as a normal thing to do?

I can tell the difference in my body when I’m getting a stress flare. Instead of my lower back feeling the brunt of the pain, it starts in my peripheral joints. For me, my elbows, hands, and wrists stiffen and swell. Eventually, if the flare doesn’t subside, it progresses to my back as well, but the stress-flare always starts somewhere else. I also get INCREDIBLY fatigued. Living with a chronic illness I’m used to a baseline level of fatigue and exhaustion, but the fatigue that comes with the stress-flare hits differently.

Of course there is stress in life that is unpredictable, and you might even argue a little stress once in a while is good for you, but when extra stress manifests with such physical symptoms, it doesn’t feel fair.

When "all the things" don't work

I do breathing and meditation exercises. I have a therapist I love. I prioritize time to move my body. I do all of the things to try and mitigate the tension brought on by stress...but what am I supposed to do when my coping and relaxation tools aren’t working? What am I supposed to do when the triggers are out of my control?

I don't fit in

How do I fit into a world that promotes long work days, constant stress, and self-care sacrifices as the keys to success?

I can’t.

But I shouldn’t have to. Quite frankly, no one should.

I have always been a huge proponent of working to live, not living to work. Part of that mentality is not letting the stresses of work spill into my personal life and my personal time. Of course it’s so much easier said than done, but with the realization that being able to put up boundaries is about more than just my mental well-being these days, it has to be a priority.

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