Feelings of stress occur when dealing with change. Being diagnosed with a cavernous angioma is certainly a major stress-provoking change. Living with problems caused by the cavernous angioma, such as strokes and seizures, can lead to daily stress, as can worrying about surgery or future bleeds. Caregivers, friends and families of those with cavernous angiomas also deal with significant stress. How do we recognize stress and what can we do about it so that our lives aren’t overwhelmed with stress?
People who are under stress may feel fearful, worried, anxious, irritated or have difficulty concentrating. They may develop headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, or heartburn. If stress continues, medical problems such as high blood pressure may develop. Stress can make it difficult to enjoy life fully and harm relationships with others.
There are many healthy ways to deal with stress. Here are some examples:
- Exercise regularly to the best of your ability.
- Stretch your muscles to release tension.
- Eat nutritious and nurturing meals.
- Make good sleep a priority.
- Practice yoga or meditation.
- Get together with friends to do activities that you enjoy or just to chat.
- Breathe deeply and slowly when you feel anxious.
- Ask others to help you when you feel overwhelmed.
- Consider asking for professional help—sometimes therapy and/or medications are needed.
We can’t change a cavernous angioma diagnosis but we can change how we handle the stress that we feel. Paying attention to the signs of stress and dealing with it in positive ways can lead to a happier and more satisfying life.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness. Delta, 1990.