Stress is notorious for making dystonia symptoms worse. The following gentle reminders may help ease stress before it becomes overwhelming, especially during these unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Acknowledge loss and change. Daily life may feel very different today than it did a month, or even a week ago. You may be unable to do things that are important to you. Changes in daily living impact our lives, even if they are positive changes. Acknowledging the change helps ease tension.
- Assess and prioritize. Think about the activities and responsibilities that are important to you. This will help you make positive choices about how you spend your time and energy.
- Good sleep is the number one self-care activity that can boost your coping and physical wellness in times of stress. Have a sleep routine and watch your caffeine intake. If you need help sleeping better, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.
- Stay connected. Connecting with friends, family, and community builds a sense of security and pride.
- Alter routines and traditions. Don’t be afraid to communicate with friends and family members about choices you are making. Help them understand your limitations. Embrace new ways of doing things.
- Look for hope and joy, and savor them. A phone call from a dear friend, hearing your favorite song on the radio, signs of spring emerging from nature. Recognize the small moments that give you joy and remember them with gratitude.
- Take deep breaths. Even just two slow, deep breaths can help you relax and stay focused. Use this method when you start to feel tense or stressed.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out. If you are struggling with depression or have feelings of despair contact your doctor, reach out to those safe people in your life, or seek help from a mental health professional. Resources are available if you don’t know where to turn. Additional information is available here.
Adapted from the webinar “Self-Care for the Holidays” with Margie Frazier, PhD, LISW-S, presented by Dystonia Medical Research Foundation:
The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to advancing research for improved dystonia treatments and ultimately a cure, promoting awareness, and supporting the well-being of affected individuals and families.