Multiple Sclerosis and Lifestyle
Maintaining a positive attitude is part of living a healthy life. No one can be positive and upbeat all the time, and the uncertainty of multiple sclerosis (MS) can present certain challenges and create stress. That's okay, and it's normal. Trying to keep a positive attitude and reduce stress where you can may help make it easier to cope with changes in your life and health.
Stress is a normal part of life—but there are techniques that may help you manage some types of stress. Here are some tips:1
- Keep it simple. Don't strive for perfection. The house doesn't have to be spotless. The laundry can wait.
- Plan ahead. Preparing for stressful situations can take some of the worry away. For example, if you have a meeting with your boss, try to practice or role-play your conversation at home. Or if a doctor's appointment is coming up, it may help to reduce stress by writing down your questions and concerns in advance. My Conversation Starter may help. It's a web tool where you can note details about some MS symptoms you may be experiencing and print off your notes to take to your next doctor's visit.
- Get unpleasant tasks out of the way first. This way, you can focus on more enjoyable things throughout the rest of your day.
- Eliminate the morning rush. Get up a few minutes earlier, and prepare what you can the night before. Don't complicate the morning with tasks that can be done at other times of the day when you may have more time.
- Ask for help. If you feel overwhelmed by tasks and responsibilities, let your family and friends pitch in.
- Exercise. Regular exercise may have a positive impact on your mental health. Talk to your health care professional before beginning any exercise program.
- Turn negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, instead of thinking "I can't do it," try thinking: "I'll try approaching this differently." With practice, you can help turn criticism into motivation.2
Time for you
Finding ways to help manage stress might help make it easier to cope with some of life's challenges. Remember to make time to do the things you enjoy. Relieving stress doesn't have to be a big production. It can be as simple as taking time to read a book, watching a favorite TV show or having a family dinner. As long as it is an activity that makes you feel good, it may help relieve some stress.
1. Foley F, Sarnoff J. Taming Stress in Multiple Sclerosis. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 2012. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/healthy-living/stress/download.aspx?id=153. Accessed September 14, 2012.
2. Mayo Clinic Web site. Positive thinking: reduce stress, enjoy life more. 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/positive-thinking/SR00009. Accessed September 14, 2012.