Listen to Your Body: Tips for Physical & Emotional Health
- by Kimberly J.
- April 09, 2018
Kimberly J. is a paid employee of Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
Simple techniques that can help your body and mind
One of the biggest challenges of living with MS can be dealing with your emotional well-being and general mental health. An MS diagnosis could bring cognitive changes, depression and other symptoms that can easily have a negative effect.
The first step in dealing with these changes is to keep in close touch with your health care team. Any changes in cognition should be reported. Likewise, any signs of clinical depression should be dealt with in a timely manner. Dealing with these issues is not a sign of weakness but one of courage and strength.
It’s also important to manage stress as best you can. It is vital to find healthy coping mechanisms. Some people like to take a relaxing walk or engage in light exercise, but be sure to ask your doctor before starting any exercise program. Others may meditate, knit, garden or find another relaxing hobby. Even 10 minutes spent quietly reading can help you regain focus and relax.
Make sure you are giving your body the fuel it needs, too. For most people, this means a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. (Of course, you should always discuss any change in diet with your doctor.) Six to eight glasses of water a day will help you stay hydrated. It is also recommended to avoid cigarette smoking, which can be linked to worsening MS symptoms.
Another valuable tool to help develop and maintain your emotional well-being is your relationships. Having people around you for support can make a huge difference. There are many MS support groups available for both patients and their family members. The Lift MS® Facebook page is one place you can find support, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society can help you locate one in your area. If you feel comfortable doing so, turn to friends and family by sharing how you are coping and how they may be able to help. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with a friend or family member, consider starting a private journal.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You will probably find that people have been waiting for you to reach out. An MS diagnosis can bring with it fear and misunderstanding. You can change that conversation if you are willing to talk about it.
Sometimes, living with MS can mean making adaptive changes. A change in physical abilities can be difficult to face. Keep in mind that an occupational or physical therapist may be helpful; discuss with your doctor what options might be right for you. Likewise, there are many adaptive devices available. Handy gadgets can help make faucets easer to turn, jars easier to open and potatoes easier to peel. A change in your physical ability does not necessarily mean you are less able to live an independent life. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has information and resources on assistive technologies that may be helpful to you.
Living with MS can feel like you’re trying to hit a moving target. Some days are better than others. You may need that handicap parking space one day and be able to take a walk the next. Trust yourself, listen to your body and share with your health care team how you are feeling. Together, you can devise a plan to promote your emotional/mental well-being.
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Shared Solutions® Nurse
About The Author
Kimberly J., RN, MSCN is an MS-Certified Nurse working at Teva's Shared Solutions® with 4 years experience, 1 of those years dedicated solely to multiple sclerosis.
COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults.
Do not use COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.