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Things to Say for Your RLS When People Tell You to ‘Just Relax’

We are human, and we learn a lot from seeing the behaviours of the people around us. We make judgements based on those behaviours. It is just the way it is.

When my restless legs syndrome (RLS) begins to act up in the evening in public, I know it can be perceived as behaviours it actually isn’t. Sometimes people say things about that, and sometimes I have quirky responses.

Managing RLS in public places

When I have RLS in the evening in public, there are a few things I do:

  • I will get up to walk around or pace to try to relieve it.
  • I will stand with my legs crossed to try to compress them and alleviate the symptoms.
  • If my legs are crossed, then the top leg will begin to shake. Either just the foot or the whole leg. If I don’t and resist, they may jerk suddenly as I just can’t resist motion.
  • I will rub my legs in a quick massaging motion to try to just relax them.

I know a lot of these behaviours come off as anxiety, or nervous behaviour or jittery energy. I am none of those things, though. There are times as an introvert I am actually nervous, sure. Stick me in front of a crowd of people I don’t know and expect me to speak, and, yeah, I’m nervous.

But I am not known for being a jittery ball of energy but rather pretty mellow yellow. I don’t have anxiety unless, again, you stick me in a situation an introvert may despise, like public speaking or karaoke singing. No thanks.

What to say when people tell you to 'chill'

So what do you say when someone tells you to "calm down" or "just relax" when you are totally chill, but your legs have an insane desire to tap dance?

Feel free to use some of my goofy suggestions. I have some ideas on what you can say about your RLS when people tell you to "chill."

  • I have RLS, and my legs like to dance on their own.
  • I have RLS, and it literally feels like there are ants in my pants or rather under my skin.
  • I have RLS, and if I don’t shake my leg, it will spontaneously kick, possibly the nearest person.
  • I have RLS, and my legs are training to be kickboxers whether I like it or not.
  • I have RLS, and apparently, I store all my energy in my legs such that I can’t resist shaking it out.
  • I have RLS and my legs really, really want to do the hokey pokey. Put my left leg out and shake it all about…

To explain or not? It depends

Normally, I will explain what restless legs syndrome is. However, that depends on the person and whether I have the time and energy to do so. Sometimes I just say I have it and give a goofy answer to amuse myself and see if they actually want to know what it is.

If they want to know more, they will inquire what it is actually about. Especially since most people assume RLS is only at night and is a sleeping disorder. Most people do not know that RLS can happen at other times, especially if we sit for long periods of time.

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