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Socializing Like Your Health Depends Upon It

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of date night with my husband or a fun "galentine’s" girls’ night out. That’s how I’ve celebrated for years and still do to this day. But as Valentine’s Day approaches this year, I thought about the special connection I have with this community.

Finding people who just "get it"

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) isn’t easy. It’s an invisible illness that even those closest to us don’t understand. They think they do because they have a front-row seat to our daily lives, but it’s hard to fully understand the experience of a disease that you have never experienced.

It doesn’t take long after a diagnosis to crave that sense of community with people who "get it." People who you don’t need to give a great background to when talking about your day. They understand the feeling of fatigue. They understand the isolation. The understand the uncertainty.

That’s why I find this community here to be so special and truly healing.

Maintaining connections is important

I never really put the connection together between my social interactions and the status of my health. In a visit with my neurologist though, I asked her what I could be doing in my everyday life to support my health.

She mentioned a healthy diet, moving my body on a regular basis, getting good quality sleep, and then she said, “Maintaining good relationships and personal connections are really important too!”

All of her previous recommendations made sense to me, but I was really taken aback that my research-focused neurologist was telling me to have good relationships so I could best manage life with multiple sclerosis.

How a social circle affects our health

Apparently, there is a connection between the health of our social circle and the health of our body: Having a strong social support network can reduce stress, help combat depression, and potentially even lead to a longer life.1

So, it got me thinking, how healthy are my relationships? Am I prioritizing them? Let’s be honest, MS can add a layer of complexity when it comes to socializing. Maybe it’s the uncertainty you have in making plans because you never know if you’ll have the energy you need to leave the house the day of your scheduled plans. Or maybe physical barriers stand in your way from needed wheelchair accessibility that all too often isn’t to the standard it should be.

The reality is we have plenty of real reasons to shy away from social activities and connections. But I’m writing this article today to encourage you – and remind me – that our social connections can be healing to us. So it’s important to find connections that work for you at this season in life.

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The power of community

I hope that you find this community to be part of your social circle. This is such a welcoming and supportive community of people who get it. We’re all on this "wild ride" with MS, not knowing what each day will bring. But one thing is for sure. When you are part of this community, you are doing life alongside a community of people – an invisible army – who are in this with you and cheering you on each and every day.

If this community has helped you in your journey with MS, please share in the comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.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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