Coping with Overwhelming Stress of Kidney Disease


Individuals suffering kidney complications are under extreme pressures, often managing budgets on fixed incomes, maintaining health, and struggling with thoughts of mortality. Experts suggest that in extreme stress, some strategies work much better than others. A key objective for anyone with severe stress is to manage his or her "fight-or-flight" response -- the evolutionary instinct that readies our bodies for danger with the energy and focus to battle a predator or run away. Unlike animals, whose response to danger subsides once the threat does, humans have the capacity to recall the trauma and fear for the future. According to David Spiegel, Stanford University School of Medicine, key strategies to maintain stress include:

  • Make a prioritized checklist and tackle each item sequentially;
  • Don't be afraid to ask people for help;
  • Know your limits, and guard them;
  • Rest -- take breaks, get lots of sleep, and "practice self-soothing";
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine.

The following strategies can provide additional comfort and relief:

Express Your Feelings.

Shielding your emotions does not protect your loved ones. Many attempt to hide their stress and worry from their family and from whom they are most close. However, this strategy often backfires because individuals often waste time and energy fighting themselves. A honest discussion of feelings often brings people closer together, offering support and understanding; which is what is needed to lead a successful life with kidney complications.

Find Support.

After diagnoses, individuals with life threatening diseases, close off to the outside world and even distance themselves from their loved ones. This is the worst thing to do because "isolation is as much of a risk to one's health as smoking or high cholesterol, " says Dr. Spiegel. During times of illness, one should draw family close and become as social as reasonably possible; asking questions, researching, staying connected and building an engaged lifestyle. We are social beings, do not fight that urge, embrace it.

Find A Way To Relax.

Whether it's prayer, meditation, watching sports, or shopping, these acts offer a powerful antidote to stress. Take some time to enjoy life. This is difficult when you are feeling ill after medication, or a dialysis treatment. During times like these, don't push it. Take the time you need to recover, and be honest with those relying on you about your physical and mental state.  

Find A Resource.

Identify a resource; either web based tool, successful friend, or physician, that is readily available to you for questions and information. They can assist you in successfully overcoming challenges. Inquire about coping skills, diet, mortality, and any other difficulties you may be facing.

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