The importance of routines in avoiding anxiety and managing EDS

To navigate periods of change, I focus on realistic positivity

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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I’m a creature of habit. I like my routines, and while I’m perfectly capable of altering them when I need to, I prefer rhythm and predictability in my day-to-day life.

I moved a couple months ago, and while I still live in the same community with the same people (and still on a horse farm), I’ve had to develop new routines. I often struggle with change, so I’ve tried to be intentional about using realistic positivity as I work to adjust to a new normal.

Some of the need for routine is human, but I sometimes wonder if my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) makes it more important for me than for others. I know that certain tasks are harder than others, so I might change the order I do things to compensate. Similarly, if I know something will take longer because I have EDS, I’ll need to plan additional time for it.

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Keeping anxiety at bay

I suspect that some of my need for routine stems from anxiety, which is common for those of us with EDS. I like knowing what my day will be like so that I can plan ahead. I’m not a fan of curveballs, and while I appear to handle them well, I may actually be flustered.

As I work to establish new routines, things don’t always go as planned. That’s provided me plenty of opportunities to practice going with the flow without getting stressed about things that don’t really matter in the long run.

I’ve written in the past about realistic positivity, which I think is an important factor in being able to manage my recent stress. Realistic positivity focuses on the good in life, but unlike toxic positivity, it doesn’t pretend that bad things don’t exist. I used to think that being positive meant ignoring what was tough. But I realized that it only made things worse. Realistic positivity encourages people to recognize what’s tough in life and then to deal with it, while retaining a focus on what’s good. That made a huge difference for me.

With this in mind, I’ve worked hard to properly frame the normal challenges of moving and create new routines in a reasonable way. This has helped to keep my anxiety at bay, which in turn has lessened the chance of having a stress-induced pain flare.

With moving, I already have a good chance of having a pain flare simply due to the physicality of it. I don’t need to increase the chances by getting stressed out.

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 another 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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Heather Vernasco avatar

Heather Vernasco

Thank you for this! It is 100% me, but I thought it was just me. I am a hair stylist, 33 years. I have cut my schedule to 3 days, and it takes me longer to perform services. I’ve had a hard time giving myself grace, and I tend to stress when something changes unexpectedly, or when I know I need to make a change for myself. The H.EDS, MCAS, Dysautonomia confirmation in the past year, after Celiac confirmation 10 years ago, has caused me to re-evaluate. Realistic Positivity is a great concept, and one I have both unconsciously and consciously started to practice, without knowing it was a thing! I feel so much less alone every time I read one of your columns.

Cynthia R Willner avatar

Cynthia R Willner

I had my bathroom remodeled 3 yrs ago. I kept asking the contractor his schedule for doing things because I really needed to pace myself to do what needed to be done for him to do what he needed to accomplish, what's the routine that we both need to be on. One of the hardest part of EDS can be looking good, I've got that great velvet skin. I'm 71 and l easily look 60, in other words I look good. This used to make my husband so angry and he'd say that's the least she can do is look good because she doesn't feel that way. Back to the remodel, the contractor struggled to understand my asking over and over about the work schedule. After 2 weeks on the job he finally saw why I was asking about a schedule. He said I get it now you're up by 7:30 but you're not really functioning, functional until about 1:00. The anxiety of trying to get him to understand just made my pain worse because for those 1st 2 weeks I struggled trying to work in a positive organized way with him and he was a great contractor and I'd give him a 9 out of 10. No one is perfect. There are no words for the amount of pain caused by anxiety. This was a great article because realistic positivity with what you can accomplish or can't in your daily routine will change your life for the good even though your pain may be a 6 on the pain scale because being positive that day you might be able to be truthful and the things on my agenda for today are not important and that can take my pain level from 6- 4 3/4.


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