Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
Managing Stress When You Live With AS
photo of woman meditating at home

I move extremely fast in almost everything I do. Depending on how you look at it, this can be a good thing or not-so-good thing. 

When I’m overloaded with too many tasks, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unable to keep up.

For over 10 years, I worked in the corporate world in fast-paced environments with strict deadlines. Being meticulous and organized was a must, but it became exhausting and stressful. The clock was always ticking, and on many days, I felt like I could never catch up with the tasks ahead of me.

Throughout my lengthy corporate career, I was relentless in achieving success with dedication to my work, but this type of lifestyle wasn’t healthy for me.

The urge to prove myself and always strive for more came from my past life experiences and the standards passed down by my family. It’s clear to me now the only purpose of their lessons was to ready me for the difficulties of life outside of our home.

However, I understand now this mental state came at an emotional cost and eventually caused damage to my well-being. I was tremendously driven and was constantly searching for new opportunities to advance further up the corporate ladder.

Despite the discomfort I encountered due to ankylosing spondylitis, particularly in my knees, I refused to let up. I decided it would be best to power through the pain and relax when I got home. Can you relate?

People living with ankylosing spondylitis are often prone to overwork, disregarding the signals their bodies give them until it’s too late. Sadly, this type of behavior is widespread among those afflicted with this condition.

Juggling the daily pressures of time and managing my physical discomfort due to ankylosing spondylitis placed me in a precarious position regarding taking care of myself.

In the past few years, I’ve developed a variety of strategies to manage stress while living with ankylosing spondylitis.

A crucial part of my daily routine is to identify when I need a break and respect it.

I pay strict attention to the thoughts in my mind and take time out for activities that bring joy, like spending time with my family or reading a good book.

Taking time out to meditate helps me stay grounded in the present and prevents me from feeling tense about future concerns. Practicing meditation has been incredibly beneficial. It’s allowed me to be more patient and kind with myself, my body, and the situations I encounter in life.

At the start of the new year, I rekindled my passion for yoga and have dedicated at least 5 days each week to expanding my practice ever since.

Yoga has not only been great in helping calm my mind, but it has also helped to improve my strength and flexibility. Every time I step onto my yoga mat, I become more intimate with my body and really listen intently as it communicates with me.

In order to manage stress, I’ve discovered that it’s critical for me to remain connected with my family, friends, and spiritual community. Reaching out when in need is a gentle reminder we can all get through difficult situations with support from those around us.

Living with ankylosing spondylitis is a lifelong journey, but when you can learn how to manage stress, it becomes much easier to cope with.

Here are a few more of my personal tips for managing stress when living with ankylosing spondylitis:

  1. Make time for yourself each day to do something that brings you joy or is calming, like taking a hot bath or making a cup of your favorite tea.
  2. Learn to recognize your stress triggers and manage them before they take a toll on your physical and mental health.
  3. Practice self-care by eating healthy, taking medication as prescribed, and getting enough sleep.
  4. Seek professional help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or depressed.

Living with ankylosing spondylitis can be challenging, but with the right strategies and lifestyle changes, it’s possible to manage stress and live a fulfilling life.

Remember, you’re not alone and it’s OK to ask for help when you need it. Take it easy and be kind to yourself. You got this! 


Stay connected to others with ankylosing spondylitis. Join our Facebook Support Group now.



Photo Credit: Thinkstock via Getty Images

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Lovaine Cohen

Lovaine Cohen

Diagnosed since 2001

Lovaine Cohen has lived with ankylosing spondylitis for over 20 years. A chronic pain coach, Lovaine helps women reduce pain with her Holistic Healing Method program and shares pain management and anxiety tips on her blog and on Instagram. Her loves include her two children in their early 20s, a rescue husky named Stella, and her husband of 28 years. Connect with Lovaine on Instagram.

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