Stress Management Tips For CKD and Other Chronic Diseases
Podcast #83 Released on March 2, 2018
I want to talk to you about Stress Management and Chronic Kidney Disease because while they often happen together, they aren't necessarily the best thing to go together. So I wanted to go over some thoughts and ideas that I have about how you can better manage your stress to help improve your health and wellness and life in general.
Very common seeing for people to do is to say “I'm going to have that lower stress, less stress” whatever point in your life. Either when you find out you have chronic kidney disease or it's a new year or something happens. That is a great kind of resolution or change that you can make in your life. But we all know that chronic kidney disease adds a lot of stress to your life.
You have financial things, you have society things going on, and you have probably family obligations, your emotional stress. All those things and now you have additional medications additional doctor's appointments, additional diet restrictions – all that you have to manage as well. That does not decrease your stress level.
The other thing is that you're now thinking about “Am I going get put on dialysis? How long am I going to manage these restrictions? How can I slow this down?” And you probably already had either diabetes or heart disease or both. All of that together just does not make for a happy comfortable stress-free life.
Stress can elevate your blood pressure, it can cause higher blood sugar levels, it can affect all of your other health problems that you may have and it can make it more difficult for your kidneys to function in addition to the fact that you are already having some difficulty and it can just kind of generally harm you all together if you're not managing it. It kind of eats away your health a little bit if you don't manage your stress a little better.
You're not going to get rid of your stress but some things you can do that can improve your stress levels and decrease them.
Number one thing you can do is exercise. If you're not exercising, remember you need to talk to your doctor about it but if you are just being active, moving, taking your dog for a walk, walking around your house. Your brain releases those feel-good endorphins when you exercise so this helped reduce your stress just because they're making you feel a little better.
The point of exercise is it kind of increases your heart rate and teaches your body how to manage the stress of an increased heart rate and so your body learns how to bring it down faster. Then, in a regular experience if you have an increased heart rate when you relax your heart rate will come back down to normal more quickly and that's always helpful to you.
Number two is diet. Following your kidney diet making sure you feel healthy altogether – eating lower salt, lower sugar, any other restricted items that you may have, fluids or potassium or phosphorus any of that – so managing those and if you watch our Zestify Your Diet series, then you can find great diet meals, recipes for you to use but watching your diet is especially important.
Sleep. It's not a badge of courage or it's not helpful to get no sleep. Making sure that you're getting enough sleep and you know what that is. If your body is used to it and you can get eight hours of sleep a night you should do that even if it means going to bed at nine o'clock at night and getting up if you get up at five in the morning or 6:00 in the morning. There's nothing wrong with that and you need to kind of test and see “Okay, if I sleep a little longer.” Sometimes that makes you more tired. Maybe, you need a nap in the afternoon. There's nothing wrong with that either as long as you're not obviously working but both your mind and your body needs to relax and rest.
Four is music. You can listen to some music and music that calms your nerves like classical music or even music just that you have in your growing up. Music brings us back, respect those happy good memories usually so I think it's always a good thing to try to incorporate that.
If you have like Amazon Prime and you have an Amazon Music List you can listen to some classical music that's called focus classical or focus music and it helps your brain to focus a little better but you probably also have like a relaxing music station so any of that is helpful whenever you're working or doing things.
Number Five: Support. Having someone that knows what you're going through that you can talk to you about your concerns and issues, things that happened to you things that are frustrating to you. Getting that off your chest being able to talk to somebody about it.
You shouldn't have to feel like you deal with everything alone but you also need to make sure that the person you're talking to and the person you're asking for support is supportive. If they're negative, if they're very much like “this is your fault!” This is something you deserve you know all that type of stuff. Those are not helpful comments so I encourage you to get those out of your life because those can cause more stress but if you have someone who is being supportive, listens to you, helps you, gives you a support, ride or whatever you need, just checks in on you via text or email or call. Then, having that can reduce your stress quite a bit.
Number six is setting goals. One of the things that I think is kind of always funny whenever somebody says it is you can't get somewhere unless you know where you're going.
If you are going “Okay, I'm going to improve my kidney disease” but you don't know where you are now and you don't know where you want to go, it’s really hard to generically improve something. If you have a goal of wanting to improve your kidney failure, what specifically do you want to improve? You want to improve your creatinine? You want to improve your eating habits? Do you want to improve your exercise?
Then, figure out where you are now and figure out where you need to go and then what you need to do to get there.
Seven: Relaxation Techniques. Calming your nerves and your mind and doing some meditation. There are meditation apps, there are meditation websites – all of that. You can relax your mind and kind of calm your brain and that's part of that music, relaxing music those types of things. Deep breathing yoga can be great for this; Tai Chi can be great for this because when you focus on that activity, you're letting your mind kind of relax because it does not have to be on point. It is really good to keep your stress levels down and working to manage them.
I want to encourage you that when it comes to stress, you acknowledge it and realize that it is there to think about a time when you’re calm and then next time that you are kind of going a million places.
Another bonus tip I have for you is to schedule things. You may think like “I don't have that much stuff I don't need to do a schedule” but when I schedule things into my day then I know they're going to get done and I don't worry about like what should I be doing because I already decided this is what I should be doing. I use a Google Calendar and I go in and I'll say “I'm going to work for, I'm going to do my 30 minutes of exercise, I'm going to do this, and I’m going to write an article, whatever.” So, I have those things lined out for the day and that way I know that what I'm working on is what and so I'm not worried about everything else – I'm not worried, I'm not concerned, I've got it all down.
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Also published on Medium.