Stress Can Be Good For Us

When living with myasthenia gravis (MG), we often seek a life without stress. Stress can lead to many health conditions and trigger MG symptoms, so it seems evident that having no stress is ideal.1,2

But imagine life without stress, especially when managing the difficulties of myasthenia gravis. Realistically, what could that entail?

Is life without stress possible?

Stress can include mental strain, hyperfocus, tension, or a natural response to challenges or threats. There are multiple things in life that can cause stress.

Many of us with MG are not able to work. This can lead to stress because treatments and healthcare are costly. Even if you do work, is any job completely stress-free? Financial security helps. However, live a life of luxury and your expectations can grow exponentially. You may still be stressed if your desires are unmet. If you live below your means, you may experience day-to-day challenges.

We often experience stress when driving due to traffic, accidents, and bad drivers. Relationships cause stress because disagreements are inevitable, or we worry about our friends and loved ones' wellbeing.

Stress-free living is not possible. You can aim for it, but I don't believe anyone can live with absolutely no stress. So how do we navigate stress in a productive way?

Putting my energy towards something productive

Not only is a stress-free life unrealistic and unattainable, but I think it would be a pretty dull existence. Most things involve a little mental tension at some point. Living with MG is often mentally draining and heavy. Yet, trying to avoid stress could also be mentally harmful.

If you're like me, my mind likes to stay active. If I do not keep my mind occupied with something purposeful, I'll find other ideas to dwell on, likely provoking some negative stress. So we might as well put our thoughts and energy towards something productive, also known as good stress!

Focus on what you can do

Many people with MG often avoid certain activities because our bodies do not feel up for it or we feel too weak. I sometimes even resist activities to avoid the dreadful feelings that come with failure and limitations with MG.

But just because an activity sparks a negative response, doesn't mean we should avoid the challenge all together. Even though MG often causes feelings of frustration, anger, hopelessness, or insecurity, I find that focusing on something I can do is better than nothing.

Good stress helps our bodies learn how to handle and cope with uncomfortable situations, including bad (or negative) stress. It can help build mental resilience.

Accepting stress

If we resist stress, we are ultimately holding onto it. In turn, that can make us stressed about being stressed. We may even blame ourselves for feeling this way, or think we are wrong for thinking negatively, worrying, and feeling overwhelmed.

Have you ever sat around all day avoiding stressful activities? Did it make you feel good at the end of the day? Now consider a day when you got something productive done. Did you feel good or successful? I often have more stress on the days where I try to avoid stressful activities and find that good stress is a form of self-care.

What to do with negative thinking?

Many of us with MG strive for stress-free living. But going about life with this expectation may make us more stressed, because when we feel stressed we may start worrying about the health risks and we feel like we are letting ourselves down. Accepting stress with open arms and minds allows us the opportunity to learn how to maneuver future tension.

What should we do with destructive stress and negative thinking when they arise? I try to respond to things that cause stress me as challenges, not threats.

Engage in a good stress activity when you are caught up in unproductive worry: exercise, run errands, create something, fix something, or clean your home. If you find yourself unmotivated to engage in a good stress activity, associate it with something you enjoy, such as your favorite drink, a bite of your favorite treat, or 15 minutes of a favorite show or book. I find rewarding myself is an excellent way of turning to good stress when I notice myself caught up in bad stress.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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