Life is unpredictable. One moment everything is fine and then something comes out of left field. Maybe it’s a job loss, a breakup or a natural disaster, and it causes some serious stress. It happens to everyone but for a person living with epilepsy stress is especially meaningful because it can trigger seizures even if they’ve been under control. While no one can fully prepare for life’s greatest complications, it’s important for people living with epilepsy to manage the smaller stressors before hardships hit, and to carry stress management habits through tough times. Here are some tips.
1. Follow your daily routine. Life’s unexpected moments can add stress, but regularity can help anyone cope. To help stick to your routine no matter what, write out a schedule and place it by your computer, next to the coffeepot or on the refrigerator. And always aim to take your medications at the same time each day.
2. Maintain a steady diet. Healthy eating is so important in managing epilepsy. Unfortunately, stress often causes people to lose their appetite or overeat. In times of stress there’s usually lots of change happening, be sure to maintain a balanced diet including vegetables, fruits and grains, avoid over-processed packaged foods, and don’t skip meals.
3. Practice relaxing. Take a yoga or tai chi class. Or simply sit in your living room and breathe deeply with your eyes closed. Even taking a few minutes to pause in silence can help minimize stress.
4. Get plenty of sleep. Stress can interfere with sleep, and not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of seizures. Cut back on caffeine during the day. At night, turn off the TV and put away the tablet and smartphone—the blue light they emit can interfere with your sleep—so that your body can get the hours of nonstop rest that it needs, seven to nine for most people.
5. Skip the alcohol. Face life’s setbacks with your usual moderation. Binge drinking, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol more than one or two drinks and alcohol withdrawal can provoke seizures.
6. Know when to ask for help. Stress can vary in intensity, and sometimes it lingers. If you’re struggling with feelings of anger, depression or anxiety, don’t feel shy about speaking with a healthcare professional. Individuals trained in mental health counseling can teach you ways to cope and get your life back on track.
Written exclusively for EpilepsyAdvocate.com.