A woman, illustrated from the waist down, carries a tote bag as she walks along the beach.

Breaking My RLS Habits

There was a day so beautiful last spring that my husband and I decided to go to a small beach to enjoy the lake view, sunshine, and fresh air. After standing on the rocky shore for about 10 minutes, we decided to go sit down on a stone picnic bench as it was better than standing on the rocks.

Turning to old coping mechanisms

After 3 minutes, I started to bounce my legs in order to hopefully stave off an RLS attack from sitting on something so hard. I think it was about 20 minutes later when it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be getting an RLS attack from the hard bench because of being on Pregabalin. I started laughing out loud and explained to my husband what I had just realized.

Reflecting on my history

I was 9 or 10 years old when I developed RLS, and I was super thankful that it only raged at night when I was trying to sleep. There were so many events that I had to attend where I needed to sit quietly and without moving around, like watching my Grandma play in the symphony. My RLS became inactive when I went through puberty a few years later.

My symptoms came back when I was 23 years old after my gall bladder was removed, and they were way worse. Gone were the days of being able to sit still for long periods of time without needing to move much -- now a new world existed where my legs would need to move after half an hour of sitting or standing still.

Over the next 12 years, I ended up learning little things to do to try to help prevent an RLS attack, like bouncing my legs when I am sitting. There is even one I only realized last year that I do as a preventative measure, rocking on my heels when I have to stand in line (wait in a queue) at, say, the grocery store. These are preventative measures that are so deeply ingrained in me that I don’t even think about them anymore, it’s more instinctual now. Pain conditions you, in a way, to do little things in order to not experience the pain again.

Life is different now

Now with Pregabalin preventing RLS attacks altogether, I can now start to break these RLS habits. I have successfully broken habits in my past, but this one is slightly different than the rest, so I think it’s going to take longer.

Jumping back to that wonderful day in March when I realized I no longer needed to bounce my legs as a preventative measure, there were still two other times that I caught myself bouncing my legs during a half-hour period. Each time, it took me a while to realize that I had started up again.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation, where when you no longer experienced RLS symptoms, you found yourself still doing preventative measures like bouncing your legs or rocking on your heels when standing still? Did it take a while for you to adjust, or do you find you still do things like that?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RestlessLegsSyndrome.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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