The prolonged stress of living with a chronic illness, like multiple sclerosis, can lead to frustration, anger, hopelessness, and depression. People with MS are especially at risk of becoming depressed, and for good reason: they face many stressors.
To better cope with the disease, it is important to learn how to manage stress. The first step is to recognize when you are stressed and then take steps to reduce your stress.
Living with multiple sclerosis means living with uncertainty. The course of the disease is very difficult for doctors to predict. Some people live with MS for years without suffering serious symptoms. Others may rapidly become disabled. Why the course of the disease varies so widely remains unclear. One thing is certain. Most people with MS experience periodic relapses, also called flare-ups or attacks. These can be mild or severe. They may show up in many different ways. Symptoms can include:
There are a number of exercises that you can do to relax. These exercises include breathing, muscle and mind relaxation, and relaxation to music. Three that you can try are listed below.
First, be sure that you have:
A quiet location that is free of distractions
A comfortable body position; sit or recline on a chair or sofa.
A good state of mind.; try to block out worries and distracting thoughts.
Two-minute relaxation: Switch your thoughts to yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped. Loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can. Rotate your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice. (Stop any movements that cause pain.) Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all of your muscles completely relax. Recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly.