How I’m trying to manage stress while living with LEMS

I work to incorporate moments of relief into my daily life

Lori Dunham avatar

by Lori Dunham |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner image for the column

Every now and then, I have one of those days when nothing goes right. The unexpected happens and throws off the whole day’s routine. I had one such day last week.

That particular morning, I slept through my alarm, only to wake late and find we were out of coffee. That’s never a good start to the day. Then I went to the garage to leave for the day and found my car had a flat tire. The day continued in that fashion through most of the afternoon.

Days like that ooze stress. There’s no way to avoid or prepare for them; in fact, it’s a triumph merely to survive them. Add in the daily burden of a rare disease, such as my daughter’s Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), and sometimes the stress is just too much.

Recommended Reading
tips for caregivers

Tips for Managing Anxiety with LEMS

Recognizing how stress affects LEMS

We understand the toll stress can take on the body. For those living with LEMS, stress can exacerbate symptoms. For example, I know that Grace, my daughter with LEMS, tires easily when under stress. It intensifies the weakness she feels, leaving her unsteady on her feet and unable to walk far. Often it takes her days to recover from a mental or physical stressor.

Recently, our family has been under abnormally heightened stress. Since Grace’s diagnosis at age 15, I’m more aware than ever about stress in our home. I want to protect Grace from it as much as possible while modeling for her positive ways of dealing with stress.

Finding what works for you

Stress relief looks different for everyone. Some find exercise helpful. Others find relief by investing their time in hobbies or the arts. Personally, I find it helpful to incorporate little things that I’m easily able to do throughout my day to help me alleviate stress. Of course, I’d love a week’s vacation on an island somewhere. But until that happens, I need to find ways to incorporate peace and calm into my everyday routine — even on the days that go from bad to worse.

Sometimes, all I can manage is soft piano music while I make dinner. Other times, it’s five minutes to myself with a cup of tea or enjoying a fire in the fireplace.

When I can steal more than a few moments to myself, I enjoy getting lost in a lighthearted, captivating book. Recently, I have enjoyed Nita Prose books, including “The Maid” and “The Mystery Guest.” They’re both heartwarming mysteries with lovable characters. There’s enough tension in the story to draw in the reader, but not so much that it stresses me out.

I know that managing stress is not only about adding positive activities to my day; it’s also about removing negative influences or overly stressful stimuli. Lately, for instance, I’ve found that television often adds to my stress. I noticed that I move into a state of heightened anxiety as I watch true crime, murder mysteries, or portrayals of deep injustice.

Now I choose calm, soothing stories that focus on the good in life. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed the PBS “Masterpiece” remake “All Creatures Great and Small.” I find it to be incredibly entertaining and uplifting.

Each one of us knows what brings us joy and positivity. When we incorporate these things into our routines, we counterbalance the stress that naturally comes with the turn of a new day.

What are some ways to alleviate stress that you’ve found effective? Please leave your ideas in the comments below.

Note: Lambert-Eaton 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 Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia syndrome.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.