Stress Isn't Best
Stress is my honorary four-letter word. Yes, I can count to six and know it’s not necessarily a bad word but if you have MS it can be downright lethal.
We all have stress in our lives, it’s managing that stress that’s imperative to our overall health. Be it the kids, work or just the everyday stressors of living with chronic illness that beguiles us we can’t allow stress to define, confine or confound us. I know this sometimes seems impossible, however, when looking at the impact it has on Multiple Sclerosis it is more than necessary.
When I was first diagnosed my neurologist told me I desperately needed to keep my stress levels in check. I looked at him like he had three heads. I was just given a life altering diagnosis, facing a multitude of financial, emotional and physiological uncertainties and this guy is telling me not to stress. Sure thing, doc. But you know what? He is so very right. Almost immediately I began to look into stress management techniques and almost as quickly they began helping. Here are some things that have really helped me:
Cognitive Training: Get rid of the “stinking thinking’ that always gets the best of us. Changing our thought process is much like creating any good lifelong habit. I had to really look at how my negative thoughts were self fulfilling prophesies. Changing my internal dialogue became essential to living a happy life. My “I can’t” became “I can” and “I will”. Almost overnight I began living a more positive existence.
Guided Imagery: Where is your happy place? If you could be anywhere where would that be? When life gets the best of you go there in your mind. When I’m getting infused, feeling the effects of the MS or just overwhelmed I check into my favorite location; my childhood home surrounded by my family. It always soothes me. Be it a beach or mountaintop go there and enjoy!
Reading my Bible: Where do I even begin? This is perhaps one of my most cherished sources of serenity. Christ offers us not only salvation but a limitless supply of inspiration. I love to highlight as I read but if you don’t have a Bible at your disposal get the Bible App. This is a great way to align yourself with His word and really reap all there is to offer. How can we feel stress when Jesus has died on the cross for our sins and tells us by living His word, we are saved? It’s simply amazing!
Talk and Share: Getting it off our mind is crucial. Talk with a confidante, family, pastor or therapist. We can’t possibly carry around all the burdens of living with MS alone, don’t try. Find support from any number of sources including online support forums.
Exercise: Move it and win some endorphins! Exercise is a free and wonderful source of stress management. I know some of us have real physical limitations but focus on what you CAN do and just DO it! Couple physical activity with the outdoors and get a double dose of healing. Do it with a friend to keep yourself motivated.
Music: I am a music junkie. If one were to look at my ipod playlist they would think me crazy. I love classical, Rock, Rap, Blues, Christian etc. The key is to find whatever heals your spirit and run with it. I ALWAYS have my ipod with me at infusions and find it not only passes the time but truly eases my fears.
Writing: Need I say more? Whether you journal, blog or just jot down things it’s all good and really works!
Essentially, find a method that works to relieve your stress and make it work for you. We may not be able to change the fact that we have MS but we can mitigate the effect it has on our lives. Most of all, remember you are never alone, we’re in this together!
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?