Multiple Sclerosis

Stress and Anxiety Management for Multiple Sclerosis


Restoring Healthy Minds – Managing Stress & Anxiety Associated With Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most pervasive neurological condition affecting young adults throughout the world, however, with the resources available, those suffering from MS can take a proactive approach and manage symptoms effectively. With improvements in the treatment of MS, the majority of people diagnosed have a normal to near-normal lifespan without becoming severely disabled.

With an additional 200 cases of MS being diagnosed each week in the United States, along with the large number of current sufferers whose anxiety and stress is undiagnosed or undertreated, the number of Americans struggling to maintain control over their mental health is greatly expanding.

The purpose of this article is to provide those struggling with MS up-to-date information about the characteristics that are associated with stress and anxiety and provide some tips on how these symptoms can be effectively managed to maintain a happy and healthy mind.

Although stress and anxiety are two separate conditions, the terms are frequently used interchangeably. Each have similar warning signs. Responses to stress and anxiety can bring about physical and emotional changes. Those affected should look for signs, such as those below, because the better you understand your own mind and body, the more effectively you can manage it.

Physical Warning Signs

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweaty palms, cold fingers
  • Muscle discomfort and tension (especially in head, neck, back, and shoulders)
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Heartburn, indigestion
  • Heart palpitations

Emotional Warning Signs

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Anger or irritability
  • Intense worry
  • Depression, sadness, or tearfulness
  • Frequent mood changes
  • Losing your sense of humor
  • Losing pleasure in activities you once loved
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Every day can bring about new stressors and feelings of anxiety. Your physical and emotional warning signs can vary day to day as well. The following techniques can be incorporated into your daily routine as needed to keep your mood positive, promoting a healthy mind.

1.Learn to Recognize What You Can and Can’t Control

When experiencing these emotions, take a step back and ask yourself “is this a situation I have control over?” If you do, take necessary action to relieve stress and anxiety. If you answer no, regain control of your emotions by “letting go” of the situation.

2. Be Proactive and Set Goals That Are Realistic

MS runs an unpredictable course, stress can be reduced when you have back-up plans in place for everyday activities.

3. Have a Routine for Exercise

This allows you to use your body to help blow off steam and release anxiety and stress. Exercise can also help you acquire more energy and have a more restful sleep, both of which also help to decrease anxiety and stress.

4. Complementary Therapies

Engage in therapies that will promote a feeling of relaxation such as meditation, yoga, massage, aromatherapy, or t’ai chi. Also, learning techniques for relaxation and breathing can not only relax you, but can also be helpful in clearing your mind of worry thoughts.

5. Keep a Journal

By tracking your emotions, such as stress and anxiety, you may be able to determine what triggers them. It is easier to manage emotions when you know their source. You can also keep track of various coping techniques you used to determine which work best for you.

6. Schedule Time for Worry

This may take a few dates with yourself to be effective. To do this, schedule a specific time each day when you will take five or ten minutes to do nothing but focus on what you are worrying about. Keep a pen and paper handy to write down your thoughts or feelings and actions necessary to remedy them. Eventually you will have less worry throughout the day as your mind will learn there is a specific time for this.

7. Ask For Help

Being honest with yourself and others about your capabilities each day help decrease anxiety and stress that can be associated with difficulties completing tasks. It also can give you the helping hands and support that you need.

8. Psychotherapy and Group Support

Having a relationship with a professional counselor can help you better cope with varying emotions you experience daily. With the support you can receive from a counselor and by joining a group, you will continue to learn new techniques to manage your emotions daily, giving you a more positive outlook