How Do You Manage MS Stress?
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Reader FavoriteStress and MS is a subject I could write volumes about.  Over the past 26 years I’ve written about the importance of utilizing stress reduction techniques more than a dozen times.  But as the years pass, newer and better ways of handling stress have emerged.

Twenty-six years ago, doctors never mentioned alternative therapies as a way of reducing stress.  Today they not only discuss it, sometimes they recommend it.

Stress is different for everyone.  Our reactions to losing a job or being stuck in traffic differ from one person to the other.

There’s everyday stress, traumatic stress and general stress.

Having an illness like Multiple Sclerosis can be another kind of stress.  After your diagnosis, you are told to remain active, self-inject a weekly or daily medication, eat healthy and maintain a positive attitude.

Whoa!

That’s a tall order for people dealing with an autoimmune disease.  Many times, patients begin to stress over what they can’t do instead of focusing on what they can.

Dr. Nicholas LaRocca, Director of Health Care Delivery and Policy Research for The National Multiple Sclerosis Society stated, “ If you think stress could cause an exacerbation, which has never been definitively proven, then you may stress over managing your stress.”1

Rosalind Kalb, Director of The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Professional Resource Center added, “People can be so worried about anything making their disease worse that it becomes another stress in and of itself.”1

According to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s booklet about MS and stress, no study has proven a direct link between stress and MS.

After living with MS for almost half of my life, I know the best thing I can do for myself is practice stress reduction techniques.  Learning how to deal with stress is the path to regaining a better quality of life.

Here is my personal list of stress reducers that have worked for me:

  • Enroll in a gentle yoga class.
  • Spend time outdoors in nature – walk, bike or sit quietly by yourself.
  • Play with your pets.
  • Watch an old movie or TV show, something light and funny.
  • Meditate or learn breathing exercises.
  • Spend time with good friends.
  • Read a book or knit.

I also decided to turn to the marvelous bloggers group I belong to, and find out how they handle stress. Generation Fabulous is a group of strong and accomplished midlife bloggers who offer support, encouragement and a sense of community to fellow midlife bloggers.

Less than a day after my request, I received over thirty responses!  Whether funny or serious, you’ll have to agree their answers are worth trying.

  • The three W’s: Walking, Writing and Wine.
  • Exercise.
  • A lot of prayer or reading The Bible.
  • Swimming or, if you can find it in your area, yoga swim class.(This person took a class at her local YMCA.)
  • Massages.
  • Great sex.
  • Walk barefoot in the grass.
  • Find something to laugh about, or reminisce about something ridiculous.
  • Go to a flea market and look for something old and beautiful.
  • Keep your schedule under control, and learn how to say “no”.
  • Sit in a rocker outside and listen to the birds.
  • Weed your garden.
  • Take a break from your routine, and power down all electronics.
  • Take a bath in Epsom salts, listen to something inspirational or music you love, and drink a glass of red wine.
  • Eat some dark chocolate.
  • Sniff some lavender or another smell that is reminiscent of better times. (I wish I could find something that smells like my peonies.

Have you found that stress impacts your MS? How do you manage your stress? We’d love to hear your comments so we can learn from each other. Please vote in the poll below!

view references
1. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx Accessed June, 2013
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