January 2022

Practices to Reduce Chronic Stress

Kathleen Lisson, CLT

Kathleen Lisson holds a Bachelors of Applied Science degree in Massage Therapy, is board certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork and is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. She is also an ACE certified health coach and MMI certified meditation teacher. She has spoken at the American Venous and Lymphatic Society (AVLS), Fat Disorders Resource Society (FDRS), MLD UK, and National Lymphedema Network (NLN) conferences. She is the author of “Swollen, Bloated and Puffy,” and the “Lipedema Treatment Guide.” Follow her on Instagram @mindfulcoachkathleen.

People with a lymphedema diagnosis are dealing with the physical, mental and emotional effects of the disease as well as the frustration of living in a world that includes a “lack of financial support from government and insurance companies, inadequate knowledge and perceived lack of interest on the part of physicians, and lack of awareness in society in general” (Towers e al., 2008).

We know that the effects of chronic stress on the body can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems. This makes self-care and reducing stress important parts of caring for chronic illnesses, like lymphedema.

Of course, the best answer is to eliminate our stressors altogether. Why can’t we all win the lottery, quit our jobs and move to paradise? If we can’t eliminate stressors, we can help our body react more effectively to stressors through resilience practices.

Resilience is the ability to “think clearly, make intentional choices, communicate and connect with others during stressful situations” (Our Approach, n.d.). “Stress Buster” resilience practices include:

  • Supportive Relationships
  • Quality Sleep
  • Balanced Nutrition
  • Physical Activity
  • Experiencing Nature
  • Mental Healthcare
  • Mindfulness Practices

One of the Stress Busters is mindfulness – paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. We can practice mindfulness several ways, including breathwork, meditation and journaling. Learn some practices in the YouTube video “Mindful Breathwork Stress Reduction & Lymphatic Health.

But sometimes we may feel so overwhelmed – either stressed or unmotivated – that we don’t feel resilient enough to perform self-care. Grounding practices may help. Here are some examples of grounding practices that use our senses to reconnect ourselves with our body.

Sight:

  • Keep eyes open during mindfulness.
  • Search out the colors of the rainbow in our environment.
  • Look into the eyes of a pet or a loved one.
  • Look at a nature scene.

Sound:

  • Listen to sounds in our environment.
  • Listen to soothing music, like Weightless by Marconi Union.
  • Ask a safe person to record a reassuring video or voicemail, and listen to it.

Touch:

  • Feel the sensation of our body against the furniture.
  • Place one hand over the heart and the other on the belly. Switch hands and see which one feels better.
  • Play with fidget toys.

Thoughts:

  • Who makes you feel supported? Who makes you smile when you think of them?
  • Think of your “happy place,” and focus on feelings generated in your body by the thoughts.

Movement:

  • Count backwards from 20 as you walk around the room, feeling your feet while walking.
  • Push against a wall or do wall squats.
  • Massage your forearm.
  • Walk the labyrinth.

When we are feeling too overwhelmed to practice self-care, we can try out one or two of these grounding techniques for a few minutes. Then, check in with how we are feeling in the present moment before returning to our self-care activity. Learn more online.

Resources:

  • Our Approach (n.d.) Retrieved from: originstraining.org.
  • Towers A, Carnevale FA, Baker ME. The psychosocial effects of cancer-related lymphedema. J Palliat Care. 2008 Autumn;24(3):134-43. PMID: 18942563.


Have questions for a lymphedema therapist? Juzo Clinical Manager and therapist John Jordi can help. Watch our Dear John video series and submit questions online. To learn more about Juzo products and programs we support, follow us on Instagram, @JuzoCompression, and Facebook.

Jean LaMantia commented on Jan 24, 2022

Reply

Thanks Kathleen! Great article!

Kathleen replied to Jean LaMantia on Jan 28, 2022

You're welcome!

 
 

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