Managing Stress and Uncertain Times with EDS

Managing Stress and Uncertain Times with EDS
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In this time of uncertainty, stress and anxiety (a very common co-diagnosis with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) management are critical to my self-care. Like virtually everyone else, my life has been a bit upended recently. But I’m trying to make the best of it that I can, while at the same time mitigating the negative effects it inflicts physically and emotionally.

In my previous column, I mentioned trying to decide whether I should continue with Pilates and massage. I made the decision to not do Pilates right now, and my massage provider has temporarily closed, cementing my thoughts that it was probably not a good idea. I mean, honestly, has anyone ever heard of keeping six feet between you and your massage therapist?

Due to these decisions, I can definitely feel physical differences. It’s not uncommon for me to feel “ready” for a massage when I hit the two-week mark, and I’m certainly there. But as of right now, I have no idea when my next massage will happen, so I’m doing as much as I can myself. BioFreeze and heat — not at the same time — are my friends. So is doing as much massage manipulation on myself as possible. I can work on my neck and shoulders a bit, and stretching is certainly helping, too.

Thankfully, I’ve been doing Pilates for over a year now, so I’ve gotten pretty decent at form and posture, allowing me to follow some at-home Pilates workouts instead of going to the studio. While not the same, it’s still beneficial both physically as well as mentally. Exercise helps keep me calm.

Exercise works double duty for me; like most, it really helps me feel better psychologically, and it also frequently helps to manage the pain associated with my EDS.

Since horses are outside and it’s relatively easy to keep away from others, the barn is still operating on a careful schedule. We’re working hard to minimize how many people are there at any one time, and to ensure that everyone who arrives makes sure to clean up after themselves. It’s stressful, but even with all the precautions we have to take, being around Spotty and Cherry is still an enormous relief. Horses have been and will continue to be a source of calm in the storm for me.

While we’re undeniably facing challenging times, I also know that they will pass, especially if we take precautions to minimize contact and risk. In Asia, where my brother and sister-in-law live, life is slowly starting to resemble something more normal. It’s not easy, but it will happen here, too.

In the meantime, keeping a positive attitude, caring for ourselves and others (from a socially responsible distance, of course), and taking an occasional afternoon to curl up with our pets is the best antidote to the stress of everyday life that I can imagine.

One of Karen’s cats, Harvey, “supervising” while she writes her column. (Photo by Karen Del Vecchio)

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Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.

An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in 2009 after a years-long search for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses, Cherry and Spotty, and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her work with BioNews.
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An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in 2009 after a years-long search for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses, Cherry and Spotty, and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her work with BioNews.
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