Prevent Stress from Causing a Flare


A couple weeks ago I asked the Kickin’As community to list the things that caused their flares. Overwhelmingly the most common response was stress. It has long been documented that stress can wreak havoc on our bodies and on our health. According to Web MD stress can cause “headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, depression, and anxiety.” In fact, I fully believe that the fact that I was living life in a state of high stress for an extended period of time is what triggered my Ankylosing Spondylitis Gene (HLA-B27) to become active when no other family members in living memory have been affected by the disease.

So obviously stress is bad for our health and the Kickin’ AS community is in agreement that it is a huge issue and trigger for our illness and sending us into flares. So, what can we do to prevent stress and limit the number of flares that we experience?

Stress Prevention Ideas:


Mediation is a simple, fast way to reduce stress, and it can be done wherever you are. Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. Meditation can provide you with a tranquil mind and deep state of relaxation. There are many different types of mediation. Three that I practice and recommend for stress reduction and fpr meditation beginners are: Guided Meditation, Mantra Meditation, and Mindfulness Meditation. You can read more about the benefits of meditation and the different varieties here. If you are interested in guided meditation you can find audio meditation recordings on Spotify and Youtube.


Yoga helps to reduce stress by:

  • Relaxing the body
  • Relaxing the mind
  • Helping you to breathe more effectively
  • Developing a connection between your mind and body
  • Helping you to understand how your mind works
  • Releasing emotional energy

Certain positions in yoga are more effective for releasing stress and tension. Find those poses here.

Exercise Regularly

In the words of the famous Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.”

The endorphins created by exercise and physical activity are chemicals produced within the brain that act as natural painkillers. They also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Even just five minutes of aerobic activity can begin to exhibit anti-anxiety effects within the body.

So, as we say on Mondays, Move It or Lose It! Perform some activity every day to help prevent and reduce stress.

Get Organized

Being unorganized is a huge stressor. Running late, never knowing where you are


supposed to be at what time, unable to find what you are looking for in your house – it all contributes to stress.

Some tips to get organized:

  • Get a planner or use your phone calendar to track all of your appointments
  • Plan your day the night before. Review all of your appointments, meetings, etc so you know what you need to do and where you need to be.
  • Deal with paperwork and mail right away. Don’t let it pile up.
  • Clear out clutter in your house, at your office, in your car, and in your desk. Throw away or donate what you no longer need or use.
  • Prioritize your tasks and in which they need to be done.

Read your Holy Book of Choice

For me personally, this has become an every day activity. If you are religious spend a few minutes every day reading your Holy Book of choice, or in prayer, or practicing your religion in some way. You will achieve a sense of peace while spending time with your god(s).

Take Time for Self-Care

Take time at least once every month to practice self-care, whatever this may mean to you.

Self-Care Activity Suggestions:

You can find more suggestions for self-care activities here.


Start journaling to purge whatever stress you may be carrying with you. Journaling is a great creative outlet that allows you to focus on yourself and your inner-most thoughts. Use your journal in whatever way works best for you. Write about your day, write poems, write song lyrics, collect motivational quotes or Bible verses. Draw and doodle. Write diagonal across the page instead of following the lines. A journal is meant for you. Use it how you want.

Learn to Say Noimg_9250

Stop overextending yourself. You do not have to commit to every activity or RSVP to every event. You do not have to agree to help your coworker with every project or volunteer to take on every activity that no one else wanted to be in charge of. Learn to say no. Only say yes when you know you can handle something and you WANT to attend or take part in the activity.

See a professional therapist or counselor

Sometimes stress gets to the point that we are no longer able to handle it on our own. Seek help from a professional therapist or counselor. Having an unbiased professional to talk to and help you sort through your life is invaluable when stress has begun to run your life. Ask for help if you need it.

Perform Positive Affirmations

Retrain your brain to see the world in a more positive light with positive affirmations. Using positive affirmations will create a more positive outlook on life and provide you with a more positive image of yourself. Positive people live longer and happier lives than people who have a negative view of the world.

Check out this list of positive affirmations.

Listen to relaxing sounds and music

If you’re feeling stressed put on some music! But not just any music. Have you ever had a massage and listened to the soothing music that is playing in the background? Listen to those soothing sounds anytime, anywhere when you feel stress start to take over. Nature sounds, meditation music, spa music, relaxing piano music are all great options. You can find playlists and stations for relaxation on just about any listening app. Spotify, Pandora, Youtube, Apple Music, or Amazon Music.

Pet your animal companion

Michelle and Cooper

Author and AS Warrior Michelle with her dog Cooper

Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.

Check out these 8 ways that your pet can help reduce stress.

Do you have more suggestions for preventing, relieving, or reducing stress? Tell us in the comments!

Keep Kickin’ AS, Warriors!

Extra Spoons to You All!


This website is not run by medical professionals and is solely the experiences of one Ankylosing Spondylitis Warrior who wishes to help and inspire others who suffer with the complications of autoimmune diseases.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Move It or Lose It Monday: The Non-Workout

img_8985Welcome to Move It or Lose It Monday, Warriors! Oftentimes we want to stay active, but our bodies just won’t allow us to workout because we are in a flare or our fatigue is bad. But just because we can’t workout, doesn’t mean we can’t still be active. And on those days, it’s even more important for us to get up and move around. Or maybe you just really hate the idea of “official exercise,” but know the importance of staying active.

So here is a list of activities to stay active when you can’t workout.Housecleaning-on-cleaning-free-stock-image-and-clip-art

  1. Do housework. Performing household chores keeps you active. Gather the laundry  and load it into the wash. Sweep, dust, mop, vacuum, clean the bathrooms and the kitchen. All tasks that require movement.
  2. Garden and do yard work. Gardening is a task that is surprisingly active. Pull weeds, turn dirt and mulch, dig out holes for your plants. Get out your old push mower and run it over your lawn. Rake leaves. You will be working up a sweat in no time.
  3. Take your dogs for a walk or play a game of fetch. Dogs are great companions for staying active.
  4. Play with your children outside. Kids keep you on your toes all day long. Take them outside to run around and get in on the fun. Go to a park to swing and climb on the jungle gym. Join in on their games of tag. Hula-hoop along beside them. The activity will be good for you and for them.
  5. Play an active game on Wii or Kinect. If the weather outside isn’t conducive to outside play time, break out the video games. Sports games and dance games keep you moving.
  6. Wash your car, and I don’t mean to run it through the automated wash.
  7. Play a sport. Break out the old sports gear. Shoot some hoops. Play catch. Kick around the old soccer or kickball.
  8. Go dancing even if it is just around your house. Dancing to your favorite music is Dancing-dance-clipart-4-imagegood for the body and the soul.
  9. Take Tai Chi. Tai Chi is one of the most recommended activities for people with chronic illness and chronic pain. You can often find classes at activity centers in your town. Or get a Tai Chi DVD to follow along at home.
  10. Go for a swim. Swim some laps. Do water aerobics. Play water sports. Splash around with your kiddos. Swimming is a great activity for chronic conditions because it is very low impact.
  11. Walk to places instead of driving. Add more activity into your day by simply walking to your destination instead of driving. Walk the kids to school in the morning. Walk to work. Walk to the grocery store. Get those steps! Track your steps with a Fitness Tracker.
  12. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Simple and easy way to gain a little more activity in your day.
  13. Stretch or do Yoga. Stretching or doing yoga keeps you loose and limber. Very important for AS Warriors!

Reminder: I am not a doctor and am not providing medical or fitness advice. I am simply sharing my experiences as an AS Warrior who is trying to live an active life, while encouraging others to stay active as well. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.

Do you have other ideas to stay active without “working out”? Tell us in the comments.

Keep Kickin’ AS!

Gentle hugs and Extra Spoons to all!


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Move It or Lose It Monday – Get Those Steps

move it or lose it monday get those steps

Welcome to Move It or Lose It Monday, AS Warriors! This is a new blog series where we will be encouraging you to be active with Ankylosing Spondylitis. We will be posting work out reviews, workout motivation, and tips and tricks to become more active.

First, we need to post an advisory that I, the author, am not a doctor and this website is not run by healthcare officials. Therefore, we at are not providing medical advice or care, nor are we providing fitness advice. We are simply sharing our experiences as AS Warriors trying to live active lives while encouraging others to do the same. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.

Today we are starting out with the most basic fitness movement. Walking. It is recommended by the American Heart Association that adults get a minimum of 10,000 steps per day to maintain good health. If you work a desk job or are on disability 10,000 steps can be surprisingly hard to achieve unless you make achieving those steps a priority. Get those steps!

Here are some things you can do to reach your 10,00 step goal:

  • Take your dog for a walk.
  • Park further away from your destination.
  • Walk around the track at a nearby school or park.
  • Play outside with your with ankylosing spondylitis
  • Walk on a treadmill.
  • Get moving on an elliptical.
  • Go for a stroll around the neighborhood with your significant other.
  • Go hiking.
  • Walk around the mall.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • If the weather is bad outside walk laps around the inside of your home instead of walking outside.
  • March in place while watching your favorite show or movie.
  • Walk to your destination instead of driving.
  • Go dancing.
  • Take a short walk during your lunch break.

These are just a few ways that you can get more steps in during the day to help you stay active with Ankylosing Spondylitis. I highly recommend investing in some form of fitness tracker, such as a FitBit.

The more we move the longer we will be able to move. Staying active helps keep off or take off weight that can negatively affect our joints and spine and it keeps us fit and flexible.

Post your workouts on Instagram and tag us with #activewithankylosingspondylitis and #kickinas to join the movement to Kick AS!

Keep Kickin’ AS, Warriors! Go get those steps!

Extra Spoons to you all!

extra spoons to you all

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

It’s Okay Not to Be Strong Every Day

img_8253As a woman, and especially as a woman who battles a chronic illness, I have this overwhelming need to appear strong and appear like I have it together every day. I know that many of you can relate to this. A need to be strong for the people around you and a need to project this air of confidence, capability, and good health.

If you’re like me, you want to make sure that you make everyone else feel good. You check on them. You want everyone else to be okay. You don’t want your illness to affect the people around you, so you put on a charade. You say you feel fine even when you don’t. You go out and participate in activities even when you don’t really feel up to you it. You take care of everyone and everything even though you can barely take care of yourself and are barely holding everything together.

But we don’t have to be strong all the time. We don’t have to do everything ourselves. It is okay to not be okay. It is okay to not be strong all the time. It is okay to be real with the people in your life and tell them that it’s not a good day if you’re feeling bad. Chronic illness is not something that we can just pretend doesn’t affect our lives and we shouldn’t have to.

Ask for help. Listen to your body. Be honest about how you are feeling. Rest when you need to. Take care of yourself. Put yourself first once in a while. Rely on the people in your life who love you and are willing to be there for you.

Remember it is okay not to be okay. It is okay to not be strong every single day. Remember this the next time you’re about to tell someone you are fine when you are really in pain.

Keep Kickin’ AS!

Gentle Hugs and Extra Spoons to You All.