Firstly I’d just like to say how delighted I am at the amount of awareness that has recently been raised around Multiple Sclerosis. There has been a massive breakthrough in a new treatment recently which has been allover the news. Panorama aired a special program about it too, which I definitely recommend watching here. Here are just some of the things I’ve read recently:
- One of the articles about the new stem cell treatment: http://bbc.in/1lHNNP9
- Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler announced that she was diagnosed with MS 15 years ago but decided then to keep it quite in case it impacted her career. I can totally relate to this and kept my MS pretty hidden for many years. Read her story here: http://wapo.st/1lHNKCM I particularly like this quote from her:
“It’s part of me, but it’s not who I am.”
- Another actress, Amy Schumer, has been raising awareness as her dad battles the disease: http://bit.ly/1lHNUdu
All of this coverage is really fantastic and leaves anyone who has the disease full of hope. However, it is currently still a daily battle. Recently I have been struggling with something that many other MS sufferers are also affected by; anxiety. It got to the point where I was actually having anxiety attacks and I spent a lot of time researching how to cope with it and speaking to people in the MS pals Facebook group – they are a great support. So here are some coping mechanisms that I’ve found to work for me…
Try breathing with this gif:
I didn’t particularly want to jump on the ‘adult colouring book’ band wagon but my other half gave me a book for Christmas and it’s actually very therapeutic. I read some more into it and because your brain is so focussed on it, it helps relax you and relieve anxiety.
I’ve recently become obsessed with an app called Peak. I struggle with my memory as a result of having MS so I have been recommended brain training in the past by my consultant at the hospital. Personally this app has been more enjoyable than any others I’ve used and provides the right balance of being challenging, but also fun!
Grounding techniques can be used to bring you back to the here and now and to safety. I find using the ‘5,4,3,2,1’ method to be quite effective: Think about 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and take 1 slow, deep breath. This can be quite handy if you’re at work or somewhere you can’t easily escape.
Tea and relaxing
Simply just taking 10 minutes out to sit down with a cup of tea. Even if I’m not feeling anxious I like taking this time to have a think and make sure I’m okay and everything in my mind is organised and I feel in control of things.
I’ve never been one for exercise; people normally have to drag me to the gym kicking and screaming! I have some pilates DVDs that I like doing at home every so often but felt it was important to incorporate some regular exercise into my life to get my heart rate up and release endorphins. Now this is EXTREMELY difficult for someone who suffers so badly from MS fatigue. I mean I struggle enough to even drag myself of the sofa and go for a walk! But I know the benefits could be so fantastic that I’ve been trying to go to the gym once a week. So far so good but I’ll keep you posted…
So those were my tips for dealing with anxiety. Being an adult is hard work enough, and we will always have stresses and worries in our lives, but they can be managed in a way that helps you live the best life you can. You just need to find what works for you.