How Do You Manage MS Stress?

How Do You Manage MS Stress?

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!

Poll

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

Comments

View Comments (20)
  • New to me
    3 years ago

    Stressing out is my number 1 cause for relapse IMO; I deal with stress by quality time with my Doxies they not only amuse me but totally make me forget about all the issues bothering me! I am getting back into gardening after a 10yr break and have been taking CBD oil daily which really helps me sleep…

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    3 years ago

    Oh, how wonderful! I am so glad you found what helps you de-stress!

  • jaksmom
    5 years ago

    I’m trying to do yoga with my son. I also knit like crazy – it’s very meditative.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    How wonderful. I also do yoga and knit. Very peaceful.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
    Cathy

  • Theater Geek
    6 years ago

    I distress via theater! When I’m in the theater I don’t have problems…even when I’m in a flare and having pain or something it disappears in the theater. Even what is known to be the most stressful week in theater, tech week…aka hell week, isn’t that stressful for me. I don’t know if it’s the wonderfully amazing people in the two theater groups I’m in or getting to step into someone else’s shoes for the time I’m in rehearsal or doing the show but it’s definitely a stress free zone. 🙂

  • Theater Geek
    5 years ago

    I really wish there was a like button for comments. I would “like” your reply Cathy if there were. 😀

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    Good for you. That sounds like something I’d love to do!

    So glad you found a great way to de-stress.

    Best always,
    Cathy

  • Ronald Huff
    6 years ago

    I love that this was raised, and enjoyed the survey afterwards. The survey results surprised me because the things I have found most helpful were rated lower. I have found it so important to reach out to family and friends. Facebook, social networks and the computer have helped that. I also think it is important to not isolate ourselves as much as we help it. Bring what we have to offer into life and connect with living in whatever ways we can. Not ‘all’ of life is MS.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    Yes, staying connected to others is so important for us. I am so glad you have found your own way to do that. Wonderful.

    Cathy

  • Stacy
    6 years ago

    Living with SPMS makes all my senses – especially vision & hearing – acutely SENSITIVE! Count me out in a large crowded situation and definitely count me OUT during football season – when my husband suddenly goes deaf & has to turn the volume on the TV way UP! 🙂
    I have a guest bedroom that is far away from sensory overload where I shut the door – and bask in the silence of nothingness. I don’t think most people realize just how loud & distracting our lives are! (MS or not)

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    Yes, life can be loud, so shutting it out and basking in the silence is very meditative and helpful. Good for you, Stacy.

    Best,
    Cathy

  • pepper300
    6 years ago

    I joined an online gaming league. I have met wonderful lifetime friends. We have so much fun playing different games together & chatting. http://www.myleague.com

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    How marvelous, pepper300~

    Good for you,
    Cathy

  • Josh
    6 years ago

    One way that I destress is to ‘plug in’ and then shut out everything else. I turn on my music, start randomly searching the net, blog a little bit, write a little in my google docs, visit a few support sites, and then start to realy relax.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    Sounds like you found a way to “de-stress” Josh, and it’s working. Good for you.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Best,
    Cathy

  • Bettie
    6 years ago

    Josh, It sounds as though you have found a great way to destress. good luch to you. Blogging is a great learning tool and a support mechanism. The best, Bettie

  • Christie Germans
    6 years ago

    Great post Cathy! Thanks for these great tips. P.S. loved the survey at the end!

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks so much, Christie!

  • Bettie
    6 years ago

    I have a 7lb Shiz-tzu and take her everywhere. Suzy Belle and I enjoy going to Nursing homes to visit patients afflected w/Parkinsons, Alzheimer and the like. Suzy Belle is a therapy dog who lifts my spirits so we pay it forward. I’m happy that I’m blessed to have a disease that I can manage and my brain can function as well as I can still walk. My sister has Dementia, Mother Parkinsons. We all work daily to keep our Auto-immune and stress in check. Sister plays piano and does cross word – Mother reads,writes poems and rides a 3 wheel bike daily. I exercise, keep busy and put on a happy face. This is better than what I see at the Nursing homes. Smile! What ever I do… I put on my lipstick and try to help my fellow man.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    That’s marvelous, Bettie. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

    Best,
    Cathy

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