How to Thrive Emotionally with MS

By Alene Brennan

When I was diagnosed with MS, I was in a complete fog.

The diagnosis came by surprise and it was just six weeks after my mother passed from cancer.

Talk about a wave of emotions.

I was sad. I was angry. I was frustrated. I was lonely. I was overwhelmed.

While I wasn’t sure exactly how, I knew that these emotions were affecting my health. If I wanted to be on a path to healing, I had to address them.

Since then I’ve come to learn a lot about emotions and their effect on our health. I’m forever grateful that I respected my emotional state and armed myself with the tools to support my emotions.

So, what are emotions?

Honestly, I have yet to discover a scientific description of them, but we do know we each experience emotions uniquely.

Emotions also can manifest physically in each person differently. Stress and/or anxiety may increase blood pressure, trigger migraine headaches, cause skin irritation or digestive distress.

The bottom line, how we feel can have a physical effect on our body.

Living with MS – an already unpredictable disease – made me realize the importance of respecting and balancing emotions.

It’s a forever evolving process – because life is forever evolving – so having the tools in place to manage emotions is incredibly beneficial.

The tools that I have found most helpful in managing emotions are my faith, yoga, and essential oils.

Faith

If I’m being completely honest part of me felt a bit betrayed by my faith at first. I got hit with a double whammy – losing my mom and then the MS diagnosis. But I thankfully had a good friend who prayed with me and reminded me of a bible verse that I have clung to ever since.

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper, not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

It was for sure a journey with my faith, but it is now the source of both my strength and surrender. Every morning I start my day with prayer and a journaling practice. It helps to set the tone for my day.

Yoga

Yoga is my practice for physical movement, although truth be told, yoga is the true embodiment of mind-body connection. I am able to move in a way that stretches and strengthens both my mind and body. It is a movement that is accessible to me during my weakest of days in a flare and during my strongest of days in remission.

It allows me to focus on my breath and work through emotions that were arising.

Essential Oils

I was skeptical of these little bottles at first. Then a friend gave me a sample of a few oils, and I was taken aback by the effectiveness and even more so by how quickly they worked for me.

Lavender is my favorite for calming and easing emotions. Peppermint and wild orange are my go-to for a pick-me-up. There are countless other oils that I have come to know and love as well, but these are my daily staples that have kept me in check.

My emotional journey will for sure continue – as it’s a daily practice – but it’s a journey I’m committed to because it’s worth my health.

*Alene Brennan works with individuals living with MS and other autoimmune diseases to create a diet and lifestyle that will support their healing and disease management. She holds four certifications: nutrition coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and natural food chef. You can learn more about her work and follow her blog, recipes, and more at www.alenebrennan.com. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook, too!

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About MSAA

As a national nonprofit organization, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a toll-free Helpline; award-winning publications including a magazine, The Motivator; website featuring educational videos and research updates; S.E.A.R.C.H.™ program to assist the MS community with learning about different treatment choices; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; a resource database, My MS Resource Locator; equipment distribution ranging from grab bars to wheelchairs; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; educational events and activities; MRI funding and insurance advocacy; and more. For additional information, please visit http://www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

Comments

  • Joan Weatherby says:

    I just recently got told I have MS. Im 66 years old & honestly dont know where this is going to take me. My dr is getting me set up for infusions. Im actually very scared how im going to react to these drugs.I get an infusion, then 2 wks another, then every 6 mos. They destroy my immune system & so forth, but slow down the progression. Can someone write me Ineed to hear from people that have this, Thanks for listening . Joan

    • Angel Blair says:

      Thank you for reaching out, Joan, I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It can be scary not knowing what to expect when it comes to MS. It can be helpful to reach out to others and gather information, as you’re comfortable doing so. If you’d like to connect with others living with MS our group has an online peer support forum called My MSAA Community, https://mymsaa.org/msaa-community/my-msaa-community-forum. You can reach out to ask others of their experiences and to receive support as you navigate this new space. I wish you the best with your treatment. If you have additional questions we can try to help with please feel free to email MSQuestions@mymsaa.org. Thank you and take care, Angel, MSAA Client Services Specialist

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