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.
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 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.
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!