"Lord, Help Me Hang In There."

“Give your stress wings and let it fly away.” ~Terri Guillemets

Stress. One of my major seizure triggers. According to the National Health Interview Survey, 75% of the general population experiences at least “some stress” every two weeks. Half of those experience moderate or high levels of stress during the same two-week period. Millions of Americans suffer from unhealthy levels of stress at work and within various other sources.

Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other conditions in many people. Stress also affects the immune system, which protects us from many serious diseases. Tranquilizers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications account for one fourth of all prescriptions written in the U.S. each year. Stress also contributes to the development of alcoholism, obesity, suicide, drug addiction, cigarette addiction, and other harmful behaviors.

More Detailed Information How Stress Affects Health:

The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones. These hormones make blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels go up. Long-term stress can help cause a variety of health problems, including:

  • Mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart beats
  • Menstrual problems
  • Acne and other skin problems

Stress has been a constant within my life for as long as I can remember. Extending back from childhood even until this very moment as I type these words. Ranging from severe school bullying, to severe abuse, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression over the course of the entirety of my lifetime. In growing up, and not having a Father-figure in my life, raised by my single hard-working mother, bullied by just about all of the school children, I spent most days in books and outdoors thinking on better days. Praying for better days. Dreaming out how I wanted life to be one day when I grew up. I spent most days to myself creating and imagining. Sketching, writing, singing, reading… Anything creative and stress-free. Anything beautiful and wonderful. Whatever it was, wherever it was, as long as it involved peace, you could find me there.

As I grew older, so did confidence and self esteem. Depression was no match for My God in Heaven who took a rightful seat within my heart where He will stay forever and ever. Though there are times, and we certainly can all say this, where things tend to bring about depressions voice saying “Remember me? Your old pal!” though its a voice that I dare not acknowledge. Not even a glimpse. God radiated His Holy Spirit within me and made all things anew from all things past. What was before, the gate had been shut closed and in accepting Him as my Lord and Savior, I had accepted his hand knowing that He would walk with me.

When Epilepsy made its grand debut in my life in 2008, it had felt as though a sledge hammer had slammed and shattered my heart into pieces. My thoughts raced within me, reflecting on my life. From childhood up until that very moment hearing the words “You have epilepsy.” I was a newlywed of just 4 months at that time. My husband and I’s birthday’s and Christmas were just days away. For weeks and months, stress and depression clung to me like a tattered cloak as I did all I could to come to grips with the news.

But God, My husband, family and friends and I would not allow myself to go down without a fight! As a collective force, we all banned together to help me rise from the ashes of stress and depression. I remember so often, asking The Lord, “Help me! God please help me through this.” and so He did.

Philippians 4:6-7 ” Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In having Epilepsy, and learning to adapt to a new way of life, adapting to medications and side effects, what I could and could no longer do, I soon found myself face-to-face with an old familiar friend called stress. Unfortunately, stress is something that can appear within all of our lives in one way shape or form.

How does stress trigger seizures?

It isn’t clear just why stress may trigger a seizure. Stress is an expected and unavoidable part of life. It is our body’s reaction to any change that requires a physical and emotional response. Stress is known to cause worry, depression, frustration and even anger. Stress may affect people in many ways. Consider the following:

  • Stress makes or releases certain hormones related to the nervous system that can impact the brain.
  • Areas of the brain important for some types of seizures, for example partial seizures, are the same areas of the brain involved in emotions and responding to stress.
  • Stress can cause problems sleeping which is also a seizure trigger.
  • Chronic stress can lead to anxiety or depression. Sleep problems are symptoms of these mood problems. Being anxious and depressed can also worsen stress, causing a vicious cycle with more seizures and mood problems.

Source: epilepsy.com

Stress developed into one of my major triggers for causing a seizure. Instantly putting me down for the count. In knowing that stress was making an attempt to re-enter into my life, I had to think quick of a battle plan to keep stress out of my life as much as possible, which is a hard thing to do as I’m sure many could agree on.

What Do I Do To Stay Stress-Free?

  • Keep God first in my life –  Knowing God is in control of things is a great way to start out de-stressing life. Calling on God in times of trouble and struggle will always assure a positive result every time.
  • Prayer and Meditation – Many doctors recommend meditation as a way to reduce stress. After meditation, people feel more refreshed and alert. Many have said that problems no longer seem so great. Prayer and meditation, the most effective meditation known for reducing anxiety, provides very deep rest in less than 20 minutes. This deep rest dissolves deep-rooted stress and fatigue. Numerous research studies demonstrate the stress-reducing benefits, for example, breast cancer patients experienced better mental and emotional health and meditating college students felt less stressed.

God and prayer have always been center stage within my life. I couldn’t imagine life without any of this. In times of stress and anxiety, I turn to God, prayer, meditation and stress relieving music. I like to often find a good spot within my home or outside to spend time alone with The Father, read The Bible or put in earphones. A really good stress relieving music app I would recommend is Relax Melodies. I highly recommend checking out this app.

  • Exercising – We all could exercise a little more, but do you know the perks? You may have heard of endorphins being secreted during exercise giving you that “runner’s high.” Scientists have discovered that the process is more complicated than that. Regular exercise helps to decrease the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol, and neurotransmitters that are secreted during the stress response. So exercise helps to reduce the damage that long term stress can have on the body.Research also discovered that exercise decreases depression, lowers anxiety and helps us sleep better. When we exercise, all of the body’s systems – cardiovascular, muscular, nervous system, etc. – have to communicate with each other more closely than usual. So, a workout makes the body more efficient and enhances our body’s ability to respond to stress. My husband and I have joined a gym and have recently made it a point to start walking places that are within distances able to be walked to for good exercise. The more opportunities we can open up to ourselves to exercise, the better, I say!
  • Kick The Caffeine To The Curb – Caffeine, is just about everywhere you turn. But caffeine has its downsides. It can make you more anxious or disrupt your sleep. Duke University researchers found that caffeine consumption increased production of stress hormones and elevated blood pressure in the workplace, both when those consuming it were resting and when they were stressed. To avoid a caffeine withdrawal headache, cut back slowly rather than going cold turkey.But what about chocolate? Interesting research conducted by Nestles demonstrated that eating small amounts of dark chocolate (40 grams) each day may help the metabolic response in stressed-out people. Chocoholics rejoice!

I made the personal decision to give up drinking soda completely about 4 years years ago upon my epilepsy diagnosis. Yes, it was a challenge at first but it was the best decision I had made. Coffee soon followed. Thank goodness chocolate is still an option!

  • Catch Those ZZZ’s – Rest is our body’s natural means to dissolve stress and fatigue. When we are rested, we feel calmer and better able to deal with problems that arise. Research has linked sleep deprivation with poor performance and dullness during the day. Missing just 1.5 hours of sleep in one night can decrease alertness by about 33%.To help you sleep better, avoid intense activity right before bed such as working or watching a violent movie. Eat lighter in the evening and avoid caffeine after 6 pm. And get enough exercise during the day so you are ready for bed.

In order to help me get better sleep, we made the decision to get blackout style curtains to keep the daylight from shining into our bedroom, as this triggered me to arise early in the mornings. In addition, before bed, I often drink a cup of Chamomile Tea before going to sleep. This helps to calm and relax me. Talk to your doctor before drinking any sort of tea to ensure it is okay for you personally.

  •  Diet – A healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables keeps stress at bay. Foods containing vitamins such as B complex, C and E and minerals like zinc and selenium help to reduce stress according to research. Avoiding canned or processed foods that often contain harmful chemicals really helps! Reduce refined carbohydrates and sugar because they cause blood sugar to increase and then fall quickly leading to a feeling of being drained. Complex carbohydrates, like whole wheat and brown rice, keep blood sugar steady and increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter that has a relaxing effect.

How you eat is as important as what you eat. Almost half of the adults in the 2009 APA study on stress reported that they overeat or eat junk food due to stress. Pay attention to your food to avoid indigestion.

As of recently, I’m so excited to announce that my husband and I have included a new addition to our household! A Nutribullet blender!

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The two of us have taken it upon ourselves to want to eat healthier lead a much healthier lifestyle than what we had been leading before-hand. In realizing the many benefits of this machine, and the benefits of eating right, its something we were all in for!

Stress is something that will always be looming throughout life unfortunately. Stress is something that will always be a major seizure trigger for me unfortunately. However, I am determined to do all I can to rise above to lead a happy, healthy life regardless of the fact that stress exists as well. It’s all a matter of how you deal with stress. Stress cannot win if you don’t allow it to win.

Open your heart, and allow God a seat in the throne within your Heart and stress will always be running far behind last as you enjoy every ounce of life God has to offer you. I don’t like stress but I am however thankful for what it has taught me over the years and even nowadays. It has strengthened my relationship with God, with my family and my friends. It has strengthened me more than I realized it had.

Whatever you do, if you’re faced with a negative situation, always vow to turn it into a positive. Don’t become negative with it. Don’t become taken down by it. Rise above it. Overcome it. Hang in there!

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