Tag Archives: stress

The ABCs of living with any chronic illness

 

 

 

 

A chronic illness is a prolonged illness that is not communicable and which is not expected to resolve.

Some examples of chronic illnesses are type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and arthritis.

According to the CDC, there are currently about 117 million adult American living a chronic illness.

In addition to this number, about 1 in 2 adult Americans live with one chronic illness and 1 in 4 live with at least two conditions.

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is a life-altering experience. I know this first hand. I still remember the shock and disbelief reading my results stating the words ‘invasive cancer’.

A lot of people may have a hard time coping with the diagnosis, and they may begin to experience feelings of overwhelm, despair and even depression.

Some people may even feel they are no longer healthy.

But as with everything else in life, you choose differently by your mindset.

That is why I chose to address the mindset in the first three chapters of my recently published Amazon bestseller book ”Dr. Eno’s Guide to Thriving with Type 2 Diabetes”

Your mindset is made up of three essential aspects. I call them the ‘ABCs of living with any chronic illness.’

I not only write about these, but I used these concepts to help me thrive through my diagnosis of cancer.

So what are the ABCs?

A stands for Acceptance
B stands for Belief
C stands for commit to change

To learn more about the ABCs, download my free ebook which highlights the first three chapters of my Amazon bestseller book.

To obtain a copy of the book from Amazon, click here.

 

To your health and wellbeing,

 

 

 

 

Here are some other articles from our archives you may also like:

Five simple strategies to cope with diabetes distress

Five symptoms women should never ignore

Today’s health awareness topic: The relationship between your emotions and diabetes symptoms

 

How stress can cause a ‘broken heart’

Hello there and welcome back,

February is heart disease awareness month. In my last article, I promised that I would share how stress can cause heart disease.

I recall the first time I met a patient diagnosed with this condition more than seven years ago:

She was close to 80 years old. She came in ‘feeling poorly’ for the last few months. Her husband had died from a chronic illness almost 15 years ago, and she never remarried. Despite being afflicted with constant back pain, she still tried to remain active. She attended regular outings of her red hat society and other senior activities. She was a delight to interview. I admitted her to the hospital, and we began running a battery of tests to find out what was the problem.

By the next day, her test results started to come in. Her heart enzyme levels were dangerously high. But she had never complained of chest pain to explain this. A cardiologist (a heart specialist) was asked to see her. She had a heart test called an echocardiogram. The results of the analysis showed that she had a heart condition called Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.

OK before your eyes glaze over, I know this sounds like a mouthful. But let me gently break the news to you- it is also called ‘Broken Heart Syndrome.’ This particular heart condition could be caused by-you guessed right if you said STRESS!

It was first described in Japan and is more common amongst women. The kicker is that either intense emotional or physical stress causes it. Anything from a medical illness, to domestic abuse, heated arguments, devastating financial loss, the death of a close relative. The list goes on. The word ‘Takotsubo’ in Japanese means ‘octopus pot.’ It describes the unique way it causes the bottom part of the heart to balloon up.

It is not sure how precisely takotsubo cardiomyopathy damages the heart. It is thought to be related to the release of a significant amount of the stress hormone called epinephrine released into the bloodstream. Unlike the more common type of heart disease-coronary artery disease- that is caused by blockage of the arteries.

The use of over the counter cold medication called phenylephrine, as well as illicit drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine, can also cause takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

It can cause the same symptoms as a heart attack like chest pain. Some patients may have shortness of breath (like my patient) or have a fainting spell.

The good news is that takotsubo cardiomyopathy if discovered and treated early is reversible. The sad story is that if left untreated eventually the heart muscle becomes too weak and can eventually lead to heart failure. Unfortunately, this was the case for my lovely elderly patient.

I share this information with you because it became clear to me that just as stress is insidious in our lives, so can it’s effects be in our hearts.

Who would believe that a heart could break from our life experiences?

The truth is that there are far too many women out there just like my patient. They are going through life oblivious to the effects that stress has on them.

They are our sisters, our neighbors, mothers, co-workers, and yes- even ourselves.

How many times have you felt a twinge of chest pain and chalked it down to ‘just stress’? Now I’m not saying to you that every twinge that you feel is a heart attack about to happen. What I am saying is that as women we have been given an ‘innate knowingness’ about our bodies. It is called a woman’s intuition. It is that intuition that signals that heart pain (ache). Then we dismiss it as ‘only stress.’ It is our body’s inner knowingness signaling us to stop and pay attention, to search within.

I know from firsthand experience as a primary care provider that being diagnosed with a chronic illness such as type 2 diabetes adds another layer of stress. But I am also here to assure you it does not have to be this way.

I do not want to see one more woman suffer from a broken heart.

It is my vision to form a TRIBE of likeminded women who want to THRIVE and experience ‘stress less’ lives.

Here are some things you can start doing today:

  • Pay attention to the signals that your body sends to you. Be still, take notice, and check within.
  • If these symptoms persist, please schedule an appointment to see your healthcare provider.
  • If you are not satisfied with the answer that your healthcare provider gives you, please be persistent. Don’t get blown off.
  • Make it a priority to learn how to handle stress
  • If you are a woman living with chronic illness find ways to create a network that supports you.

As always I look forward to your comments.

To your Health and Wellbeing,

 

Today’s Health Awareness Topic – Women and Heart Disease

 

heart healthFebruary is heart health month. I am committed to helping women, especially women living with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, learn all they can to enhance their health and wellbeing.

But I have found that a lot of women do not know the facts when it comes to heart disease. Only 54% of women know that heart disease kills more women than breast or lung cancer.
According to the most recent statistics by the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States in women over the age of 35 years.

Although the rate of death from heart disease for men has dropped in the last thirty years, they have not done so for women. In 2013, heart disease was responsible for killing close to 290,000 women. This translates to 1 in every 4 women dying due to heart disease.

There used to be a time when there was a general belief in the medical community that women under the age of 50 could not suffer a heart attack. So you can imagine what happened if you were a woman and you went to see your doctor with a complaint of chest pain. Your doctor would usually reassure you that it was not your heart and perhaps you had indigestion or were under a lot of stress and prescribe something for that.

As a woman it is extremely important to arm yourself with facts about your heart health.

Some other heart health facts that you need to be aware of:

  • Heart disease will kill six times more women this year than breast cancer.
  • 71% of women do not experience the early signs of a heart attack as chest pain as do men. They may experience a sudden onset of weakness. Almost 2/3rds of women who die suddenly of heart disease did not have any symptoms.
  • Women who smoke are twice as likely to have a heart attack as men who smoke. The risk of a heart attack is 19 years earlier than women who do not smoke. So think about it, if you are a woman and you have been smoking since you were in your teens (which by my experience is the time that most people start a bad habit like smoking ☺), then your risk of having a heart attack begins to rise toward your forties.
  • Type 2 Diabetes increases a woman’s risk of developing heart disease. Women living with diabetes who have had a heart attack have double the risk of having a repeat heart attack in their lifetime or developing heart failure.
  • Women with metabolic syndrome have an increased risk of developing heart disease, especially at a younger age.
  • Women under the age of 50 have twice the risk of dying from a heart attack as men in the same age range. This is all the more reason to be persistent when something does not seem right. I have often shared that as women we have an inner knowingness about ourselves and/or situations. This is called intuition and you can learn to use it to guide you in all aspects of your life.
  • Marital stress worsens the outcome of a heart attack.

What happens to you when you have a heart attack?

When you develop a heart attack, the blood supply to an area of the heart muscle gets blocked off. Sometimes the blockage may not be a complete blockage and blood can still get by to the heart muscle. This is called ischemia or angina. The classic symptoms of angina are chest pain, chest discomfort, and chest heaviness. Sometimes the pain or discomfort may go down the left arm or into the jaw.

As women we may have what is called ‘atypical symptoms’ like unusual weakness, heartburn, dizziness, etc.

But remember just as I pointed out, some women may not have the classic presentation of a heart attack or angina.

The good news is that if the blood supply is restored at this point, then no permanent damage occurs to the heart muscle.

When the blood vessel to a particular are of the heart remains blocked for a period of time, eventually the heart muscle begins to die off. Sometimes the damage cannot be reversed and the heart muscle dies and it is replaced by scar tissue. Scar tissue reduces the functioning of the heart and eventually causes heart failure and death.

It is important to get to an emergency room as soon as possible if you develop any symptoms suspicious for a heart attack. This is because the sooner you get intervention by a heart specialist to open up the blocked vessels the less the risk of permanent damage to your heart.

What you can start doing today:

  • Become knowledgeable about your risk for heart disease. Even if you do not have a family history of heart disease you can still be at risk!
  • If you smoke then quit. No more excuses! It’s still early in the year and you know you can do it.
    If you are obese or even over 10% of your ideal body weight, then commit to losing weight.
  • Schedule your annual physical and know your numbers! These numbers include- your blood pressure, fasting lipid profile (cholesterol), and blood sugar. If any of these numbers are outside of normal range then take action and work on getting them back to normal.
  • If you have high blood pressure or borderline diabetes or type 2 diabetes, then make sure that you are being treated by the appropriate healthcare professional. Do not ignore this part of your care. Denial only worsens things in the long run.
  • Find ways to cope with stress in your life. Stress is so prevalent that we as humans do not believe they can live a stress free life. It is our perception of stress that matters and what we do to modulate its effects.

Now more than ever we as women need to become more pro-active in our overall health and wellbeing. We need to stop making excuses for poor lifestyle choices. More importantly we need to accept that these lifestyle choices not only shorten our lives, but also the quality of the life that we have left. I’m not sure about you but I want to be health and vibrant into my 90s and beyond!

My mission in creating this blog is to provide a whole person approach to living with type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

Along those lines, over the next few months, in addition to the release of my updated book, Dr. Eno’s A-Z Guide to Living Powerfully with Type 2 Diabetes’, I will  be rolling out several programs. I look forward to working closely with those who are willing to invest the time and effort to enhance their health and wellbeing.

 

 

Today’s Health Awareness Topic: The relationship between your emotions and diabetes symptoms

 

 

 

 

People living with diabetes  may experience a wide range of emotions on a day-to-day basis. These emotions may range from initial anger, resentment, disbelief, and even denial. At times these emotions can be very intense. Sometimes these negative emotions are inappropriately directed at the healthcare provider who gave the bad news of the diagnosis.

Being diagnosed and living with type 2 diabetes does not have to be a stressful experience. Consider that contrary to popular opinion, being ‘stressed out’ does not have to be part of living with any chronic illness including type 2 diabetes.

It is predictable that over time, your emotions will wax and wane. Some days you may feel more upbeat than other days. Rest assured that you are OK. One of the first things that I do with my patients and clients is to work on getting those emotions out in the open so that we can deal with them at the outset.

You have the power to choose how your emotions impact your overall health and well being.

This is especially important if these emotions are not empowering. We all have the power to choose how our emotions impact us. I know this may sound so cliché. But really and truly this is one of the times that you get to choose and that choice directly impacts your blood sugar control. Living with diabetes is a prime example where having the power of choice impacts your overall health and blood sugar levels.

If you are constantly stressed out and angry then it’s predictable that it may be more challenging to get your blood sugars within normal range.

Stress causes the release of hormones in the body. The stress hormones are called adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These hormones help to prepare the body for ‘fight or flight’. One way that they prepare us for ‘fight or flight’ is by increasing the production of glucose from the liver stores. This is a normal stress response.

However, when you have diabetes, the last thing that you need is more sugar in your blood stream. Your body is already not able to handle the glucose that it has already!

Research has been performed on the effects of a positive mood on our overall health and well-being. On a chemical level, being happy helps to reduce stress hormones. It enhances the release of endorphins and natural serotonin both of which enhances our emotional state and enhances our well-being. If you have a positive and optimistic mindset, then you will feel more empowered in finding ways to better control your blood sugars.

The first step to living an empowered life with diabetes is to get those emotions out in the open. The next step is to deal with these emotions.

It can be challenging for healthcare providers to be able to address all the emotional concerns of our patients  living with a chronic illness. There is no  doubt the 15-minute ‘double-booked’ appointment slot may not help us to connect with our patients and understand how they are actually experiencing their disease but this discussion is important. Be certain to speak to your healthcare provider if you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed.

Over time some people living with diabetes may begin to experience what is known as diabetes distress.  Diabetes distress is not true depression. Some patients may need the support of talk therapy. It may be helpful to work with a health coach or a psychologist.

As a professional life coach and a physician my stand is for patients and clients living with type 2 diabetes or any chronic illness to experience a vibrant wholesome life.

It is what motivated me create this platform as a way to empower women living with diabetes.

By empowering women, we empower our communities and eventually the planet.

One of the most important things to do is to deal with your mindset and your perception of living with diabetes.

In the first three chapters of the soon to be released updated version of my  book, ‘Dr. Eno’s A-Z  Guide to Living Powerfully with Diabetes’ I write about what I can best describe as the ‘ABCs of a positive mindset’.

They are:

  • A-Acceptance
  • B-Belief
  • C- Commitment to change

Yes you have the power to choose whichever way it goes. Remain committed to how your health and well-being even on days that you may not feel your best.

To take a FREE peek of the first three chapters my upcoming book, click here.

To your Health & Well-being,

Five strategies to help relieve stress this holiday season

holiday-stress

The 2016 Holiday season is upon us. No matter your religion or creed, for the most part the end of the calendar year is always filled with lots of activity.

The holiday season is filled with lots of activities such as shopping, family gatherings, holiday parties, gift giving , etc. For some the holidays can be perceived as stressful. At times the stress can leave us feeling depleted, overwhelmed to the point that it may even rob us of experiencing the joy of the season.

I invite you to consider that it does not have to be that way. Consider that just as any other thing in your life, our default is to make up ‘a story’ about our experience of the holiday season.

In this article, I highlight five strategies to help relieve stress this holiday season. The great news about these strategies is that you can use them year round in any situation you may find yourself.

So consider the holiday season to be a playground to practice, so that you are ready to embrace challenges in 2017 with less sense of overwhelm.

Strategy number one -Schedule regular downtime

Allot times during the day when you have some ‘me time.’ I suggest a time-frame no shorter than 10 minutes and no longer than 30 minutes.

During this time, your goal is to decompress, declutter your mind, and check in with your emotions. Your downtime should be about sourcing your inner self, allowing you to refocus.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with endless activity, consider downtime as a time to ‘correct the course’. Your downtime is NOT the time to catch up on chores, get on social media, or make phone calls. This is the time to disconnect from the outside world and focus on the inside.

Come up with a list of things that source you. Here are some suggestions of things you could consider doing during your downtime

  • Read inspirational material
  • Walk in nature
  • Say affirmations
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Journaling

Enlist the support of family members and friends in honoring your downtime. Remember it is not a long period of time that you are taking off. You could even enroll them in taking some downtime for themselves as steps to support their own wellbeing and reduce stress.

Strategy number two-Express gratitude every day

The Holiday season is a great time to express and recognize gratitude.

When we express gratitude in our lives, we train our subconscious mind to focus more on the positives in life that comes our way. What we  focus on, we tend to attract more of the same into our lives.  So rather than focus on the things that cause us stress, we can choose to focus on things we are grateful for.

Start a gratitude moment first thing in the morning or at the end of your day. Take on creating a list at least five things that you are grateful for every day.

Rather than repeating the same things each day, try to come up with at different things each day.  This will train your mind to begin to notice things more. The practice of expressing and writing down things you are grateful for helps you become more mindful. This is because  you will learn to actively notice things that are going on in your life.

Another twist to the gratitude practice is to try to see if you can frame things that you initially felt were a negative experience into something positive you can be grateful for.

For instance let’s say that you in the grocery store in the check out line and it’s crowded, rather than get stressed out about the long line, consider striking up a conversation with a fellow shopper. You never know you might learn something new.

Strategy number three-Keep physically active

If you are not already physically active, there is no time like the holidays to start an exercise program. Walking is a great form of exercise. Fitness trackers are a great way to track your progress. Plus fitness trackers make great gifts. Aim for 10,000 steps or more a day as a way to keep the calories and stress away. There are other forms of exercise like resistance training, balance training. Research the different types. Perhaps you could drop in on an exercise class you’ve been wanting to attend. Get curious, get active.

Strategy number four-Boost your energy with power foods

The holiday season can get fast paced to the point that we may skip on healthy meals and binge on dessert filled calories.

One health and wellbeing strategy is to boost your energy with foods rich in antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin B complex.

To read more about power foods to boost your emotional health click here.

Strategy number five-Do not forget the reason for the season.

Finally do not forget the reason for the season. Whatever your denomination, the end of the year is a time for celebration. It is a time to strengthen our relationships to one another. To celebrate our victories, without dwelling on our past mistakes.

The holidays are a time for forgiveness and letting go of past hurts. A time for being love in action. I firmly believe that’s why we have family. Consider that our relatives are our greatest teachers. And rather than be stressed at the prospect of yet another Holiday gathering with your relatives that you embrace it as a place to practice being love.

That my friends is the reason for the season. Happy Thanksgiving!!

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