It’s an anxiety-inducing time. This coronavirus has created a worldwide situation where people are scared and unsure.
And I understand.
I’m self-employed and so is my partner. The U.K. has just gone into lockdown, and government support for the self-employed isn’t so strong right now (though they’ve announced they’re working on it). So I get it. I appreciate it’s a time when many of us are scared for our health, and many of us our scared about our financial futures. And if we’re not worrying about ourselves, we’re worrying about our loved ones.
But endometriosis doesn’t just stop because the coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill.
My management of endometriosis doesn’t stop either.
Because I have articles to write, clients I support (and love to support), a community to serve, podcasts to record, rent to pay and food to buy.
I could allow the practices I put in place to fall to the wayside. I totally could. Given the current circumstances, anyone could understand why.
But how would that serve me? To have a pain flare up in the middle of all of this? To not be able to show up for my clients well, or at all? There are people out there who, like me, are now living with the fear of our current climate alongside an incredibly challenging disease. Maybe I don’t have many new clients signing up, but I do have my wonderful pre-existing clients and a lovely audience, and they’re looking to me to continue to support them as they navigate their endometriosis during this time.
And if I, or we, allowed ourselves to spiral, the more fear we’d feel, the more anxious we’d feel, the more stressed we’d get.
And as I’ve explained in previous articles and in my podcast, the brain is programmed to recognize threats — it’s job is to keep us safe and alive. So if it suddenly feels under threat because of a virus, it’s going to be on hyper alert. It’s going to be like a bouncer at the door of a club on a payday weekend or after a particularly dramatic football match. It’s going to be looking for trouble and it’s going to be responding to that with greater intensity. Which means for us, heightened pain responses.
And it’s begun happening for many of us. I’ve been speaking to my community and they’ve reported more cramps, flare-ups and more pain than usual.
So during this time, even though it’s difficult, how can we try to calm our brains down to reduce the chances of a flare-up and keep our endometriosis under control?
This isn’t about denial or ignoring the situation, it’s just about putting practices in place that will support you to stay well.
I was totally overwhelmed last week by the amount of negativity circulating my social media feeds that I didn’t actually need to see. These stories and posts didn’t help me — whatever I needed to know I could get from the National Health Service (NHS) and other government websites. So I started muting some accounts, and began honing in on those that were helping me to feel calm. Rachel and Dave Hollis are doing a brilliant job of this — they’re encouraging their community to choose joy, and are sharing content and inspiration for finding more joy during these difficult times.
Meditation can help us to focus on what’s actually happening in the present, rather than worrying about what hasn’t happened and may not happen. There are some really difficult things going on right now, but a lot of the fear that is taking place is also around the worry of what’s going to happen next, whether it’s going to get worse, etc.
Grounding ourselves in meditation helps to calm the brain by helping us to acknowledge our feelings, yet supporting us to prevent them from spiraling.
Meditation has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, and can therefore support the brain to feel safe and reduce the reaction to pain signals.
Gratitude has been scientifically proven to make people feel happier, both in people with and without mental health issues. By writing a daily list of things we’re grateful for, we begin to take our attention away from some of our fears, and start distracting our brain with all the ways in which we are safe, lucky, blessed, etc.
These are just some of the ways you can begin helping your brain feel safe. But find ways that feel good to you — community (from a distance), endo-friendly baking, exercise, reading, comfy blankets. Whatever makes you feel good, do that.
Note: Endometriosis 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 Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.