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Living with a chronic condition like environmental sensitivities can be stressful. Relaxation exercises can decrease your stress and help you sleep better. They may even help to relieve your symptoms, as our minds and bodies are intricately connected.

Relaxation can be accomplished in different ways: deep breathing exercises, meditation, visualization techniques, progressive relaxation and biofeedback. As little as 20 minutes of relaxation a day can have health benefits, including reduced anxiety and an increased sense of well-being.

Below is an example of an easy exercise to promote relaxation:

Choose a place in your house that will be your “relaxation space,” preferably a place where you can close the door and be alone, uninterrupted, for at least 10 minutes at a time. You may need to let your family know that this is a time when you want to be left alone.

Sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Take a few breaths to settle in and still your mind. Tell yourself that this is your time. When you feel settled, as you breathe in through your nose, say “re” silently to yourself, and “lax” as you exhale through your mouth. Gradually increase the length of your inhale and exhale.

Ideally, you would do this for about 10 minutes twice a day. However, this exercise can be done at any time of day, for a few minutes, whenever you first recognize your particular symptoms of stress. For example, if you are working and start to feel a headache or a stiff neck, take a couple of minutes to do this breathing exercise before you continue with your work.

If you find that these strategies do not work for you, your family physician may suggest trying non-prescription sleep aids, such as chamomile tea, warm milk, valerian or over-the-counter medications that cause drowsiness as a side effect, for example, diphenhydramine HCl (Benadryl), certain antihistamines and dimenhydrinate (Gravol), an anti-nauseant.

Discuss with your doctor any over-the-counter or natural remedy that you are considering, before trying it, to make sure that it is compatible with other treatments being used and that it is safe for you. Also, just because a product is labelled “natural” doesn’t mean that it is safe. 

If these strategies are still insufficient, your doctor may prescribe medications, such as a muscle relaxant or pain reliever, or a low dose of a tricyclic medication. Tricyclics are used in higher doses as antidepressants, but are also used in low doses as sleep aids and pain relievers.

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Environmental Sensitivities

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