Ankylosing Spondylitis Awareness Project

Stress and its effects on AS

Over the last week I have been having a hell of time with my neck, shoulders and upper back. I have been to the chiropractor two times and for a massage and have had no relief. I was beginning to think that maybe I was eating something “bad”, but I had been checking everything, so I wasn’t sure what was going on. I was not going to get discourage and begin to think that I hadn’t found “my answer”.

I decided to ask the pendulum if I was eating something “bad” for me and it said “NO”. So I thought why not ask some other questions. I asked “Is stress causing my body to hurt?” and the pendulum indicated “YES”. That was the only thing I could think of that was wrong with me. Overall I feel great, no stomach pains, no body pains, so it had to be stress.

I found this fantastic article by Dr. Ester M. Sternberg, describing the role of stress on autoimmune diseases. She explained that cortisol, which is released from the adrenal glands in response to stress, is a potent anti-inflammatory hormone and is in response to inflammatory triggers.

Normally, cortisol keeps the immune system functioning properly by keeping the inflammatory response down, but when you have an autoimmune disease (AS) the cortisol cannot shut down or control the inflammation process when the body no longer needs it. What this means is the body’s inflammation process runs unrestrained without the cortisol’s “dampening” effect.

Dr. Ester M. Sternberg writes “The notions that stress can make you sick or believing could make you well have been embedded in the popular culture for thousands of years, but only recently have scientists and physicians had the tools to prove that these ideas are real. In ancient Greece, people visited Temples to Asclepius, the Greek God of Healing, to be cured with prayers, music, sleep, dreams, healthy diet, pure water, exercise, and socializing with family and friends. These temples were always built at the tops of hills overlooking the sea, near a fresh water source, and had gently sloping ramps that even the lame could climb.”
So now that I have this information what should I do? I said earlier in a post I was going to “try” and go to water aerobics, but I haven’t gotten there yet.  Now if I was in Greece I could go and visit the Temples to Asclepius, but don’t think that would be feasible. I do listen to music in my office every day, the nice soothing type. I think I sleep pretty well, and my diet cannot get any better since I watch everything I eat. So guess this leaves me with exercise!

For the next month I am going to do my type of exercises. I will get to water aerobics on Tuesday, but to add to that I am going to do relaxation and meditation. Now if you know anything about me, these two things will probably drive me insane, but I am going to give it a shot. Here is more info from the Mayo Clinic on the two.

Practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:

  • Slowing your heart rate
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

To get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques along with other positive coping methods, such as exercising, getting enough sleep, and reaching out to supportive family and friends.

Meditation Technique
The emotional benefits of meditation include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions

    Have fun and Peace Out! :0)

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