A very common New Year's resolution for those with chronic kidney disease is reducing the stress level in their lives. There are many sources for stress, but a CKD diagnosis can bring on a wealth of additional stressors you need to manage effectively.
Not only do you have everyday financial, societal, and emotional stresses to deal with, you now have to make sure you are taking your medications, following your renal diet, getting the exercise your body needs, and making all of your doctor's appointments. Also, the thoughts of mortality and coping with a long-term health condition can be enough to raise your stress levels by themselves.
With so much resting on your shoulders, it's no wonder that CKD patients have a lot of stress to handle. It's important, however, that you learn to manage your stress level, as well as your body's response to the stress.
The Effect of Stress on CKD
We all know that prolonged stress is not good on the body, but for chronic kidney disease, it can really wreak havoc. Stress can contribute to elevated blood pressure, which is already a common issue for CKD patients. It can also lead to higher blood sugar levels, faster heart rate, and an increased risk for heart disease.
Since chronic kidney disease already puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, stress can increase your risk to dangerous levels. It can make it more difficult for the kidneys to function, with the amount of glucose in the blood and blood circulation problems. Therefore, stress can actually promote the decline in kidney function in CKD patients, when left unchecked.
How to Manage your Stress Level in the New Year
It may not be possible to completely alleviate the stress in your life. However, you can lower the causes of your stress to create a more relaxed and healthier living for yourself.
Below are some of the most effective ways to reduce your stress to make it more manageable along with your CKD.
Staying active may be the most effective way to combat the stress in your life. Not only does it help to create a more positive mindset, exercise benefits your overall health in a number of ways.
When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, a “feel good” chemical that promotes happiness. Regular exercise can help to offset the negative stress in your life, bring it down to a manageable level.
Following your renal diet helps to ensure you feel well, physically and mentally. Eating too much sugar, sodium, and other restricted items can weigh down your body, allowing the stress to cause even more problems.
It is vital that you get enough sleep each night, if you want your body to effectively cope with stress. Both your mind and body need time to relax and get ready for a new day.
Listening to the right music is a great way to relax and lower your stress level. Studies have shown that music can be a very effective stress management tool. Calm your nerves by playing peaceful tunes as much as possible – on your daily commute, while you shower, and before bed.
One thing that a chronic kidney disease patient must realize to battle stress is that they do not have to deal with everything alone. Find a support system that fosters positive energy, helping you to cope with the issues surrounding your diagnosis as well as the stresses of everyday life.
You may look for other CKD patients in your area, as connecting with others that have similar struggles help you learn to cope and reduce your stress. It's also a good idea to seek professional help when learning how to deal with stress.
Likewise, now is the time to remove the negative people in your life. You do not need the “support” of those that stress you out and cause more worry than is necessary for your condition. We have to do what is best for us, and if that means restricting contact with those that aren't truly supportive, it may need to be done to feel better and lower your own stress.
- Goal Setting
When you are facing new challenges, goal setting can be your best advocate against high stress levels. Set SMART goals with an end date that you can achieve. Avoid setting yourself up for failure by creating crazy expectations.
Break your larger goals into smaller milestones. Reaching each mini-goal helps develop a more positive outlook, and pushes you to continue staying on track.
- Relaxation Techniques
The key to lowering your stress levels in the New Year is learning how to effectively relax. You must calm your nerves and mind so that your body can cope with the outside stressors presented to you daily.
Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are all great ways to find peace and lower your stress level. Yoga is a very mild and low-impact practice, making it great for many CKD patients.
You must keep your stress levels down to effectively manage chronic kidney disease. There are many ways you can reduce the stress, thankfully, and combining several of the methods mentioned above creates a more relaxed environment for you to live in.
Work to manage your stress levels in the New Year, to promote improved overall health and wellbeing!
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Also published on Medium.