Ideas for Stress Management

Living with MS can be super stressful, especially when you’re living in the middle of a pandemic. Now is the best time to start practicing stress management techniques to help you overcome stressful moments. Here are a few ideas for stress management that can help you get through tough times.

·      Exercise

Keeping your body as active as possible on a regular basis is a great way to balance your nervous system and flush out those inconvenient stress hormones.

·      Eat a balanced diet

Well-nourished bodies manage stressful moments better. Eat more fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods and sugar, and drink plenty of water.

·      Connect with friends and family

Although most of us are seeing our friends and family online or on a virtual basis, it still helps to release stress hormones by seeing their faces and hearing their voices. Even when it is through a screen.

·      Have some “Me” time

If you have a hobby or something you love to do, schedule some time to do whatever it is that you love to do. Whether it is reading, writing, napping, or watching tv, makes sure you spend some time doing what makes you feel happy and relaxed.

·      Get a good night’s rest

Sleep is extremely important. Getting a good night’s rest can set your day up for success just as much as a poor night’s rest can start your day off on the wrong foot. Getting between seven and eight hours of sleep can actually improve your ability to manage stress.

·      Talk to a mental health professional

If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress and are struggling to effectively cope and mange life’s stressful moments, it’s important to seek professional help.

Your health and life are absolutely worth it.

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Enjoyable Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

Mental health plays such a large role on your psychological and emotional well-being. It is super important to find enjoyable ways to improve your mental health. To help get you started, here are some cool ideas.

Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest is not only enjoyable, but it also comes with amazing benefits. Catching about 8 hours of sleep has been shown to strengthen the heart muscle, improve memory, and it greatly lowers your risk of depression and anxiety. Wow! *searching for my favorite pillow and blanket as I write this*

Pet Your Pet

Pets are AMAZING for improving mental health. Dogs are amongst the most common pets known to provide emotional support for individuals, but they aren’t the only ones. If you have a pet that brings you joy and happiness, you should totally pet your pet. Ha! See what I did there? Whether your fur baby is a dog, cat, bunny, squirrel, or guinea pig, petting your pet has great emotional benefits. I have a 4-month-old puppy named Oreo, and he definitely improves my mood. I love to snuggle him with his wittle cute fuzzy wuzzy face and his adorable big brown eyes and little curly tail and…focus, Selena, focus. *Inserts adorable picture of Oreo below.*

Doodle

Yes, you read that right. Doodle! Doodling and scribbling have proven to relieve stress and anxiety for individuals who are feeling overwhelmed. Doodling has also shown to help improve focus and the best part is that it’s fun too. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, bust out the pen and paper and give doodling a try.

Even though these cool ideas are fun and helpful, they aren’t a one size fits all deal. You know yourself better than anyone else does, so I encourage you to find something that is enjoyable to you. Whatever that thing is for you, do that whenever you notice your mental health is in need of some improvement and have fun with it. You are the best person to find enjoyable ways to improve your mental health.

You got this.

*If you ever find yourself struggling to manage your mental health on your own, please be encouraged to reach out to your physician or a mental health professional for help.

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The Importance of Valuable Relationships

Valuable Relationships

Relationships. Just how important are valuable relationships? Do they really matter? In the current state of the world, in the midst of a global pandemic, are relationships still relevant? Short Answer? Absolutely!

Relationships are important because they bridge the connection between people. They are the essence of humanity and are vital to the mental and emotional health behind the human experience. It is the connection between two individuals that can lead to happiness and success in a person’s life. This very reason is why it is so important to have valuable relationships.

Whether it be a relationship with a parent, family member, or friend, relationships are important because they satisfy the human need to connect. Important relationships also provide an additional perspective to your own thoughts and can help get you out of emotional slumps. I’m thankful that throughout everything I’ve encountered in my life, I’ve had valuable relationships to help keep me encouraged and moving forward.

Valuable relationships can also give you that much needed “second wind.”

 Friends, there might be times when you want to give up. There might be times when you can’t see a solution to your current situation. In those discouraging moments, reach out to a friend or a loved one for an additional perspective. It is in those additional perspectives that you can find great hope, strength, and encouragement to keep pushing forward. It is in those additional perspectives that you will find your “second wind.”

Valuable relationships are super important in more ways than we realize, and holding on to them is a must. Friends, I want to encourage you to stay connected with those valuable relationships in your life. Reach out and stay connected with your loved ones. You will find yourself much happier, and your mind and body will thank you.

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Don’t Give Up Hope

Hope

Hope is defined by the Oxford Dictionary, as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Another definition of hope is to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment. Hope can be a helpful and beneficial tool to have in this New Year. It will leave you with an expectation and desire for the fulfillment of the very thing you want to happen. Don’t Give Up Hope.

When circumstances come your way, you can use hope as a tool until the outcome you desire comes to pass. It’s simple and easy to do. In high school I played soccer, and my coach would always say to us “don’t give up hope”. There were times when our team would be down 2 points with very little time left on the clock but the resounding noise from the sideline, would be our coach yelling “Don’t give up hope!”

“Don’t give up hope!”

I understand now that he was teaching us a principle that we could use every day. He was showing us that no matter what life throws at us, we will always have the ability to desire and expect an outcome that we desire. As we hoped and unified as a team on a singular outcome, we would somehow find a way to change the outcome of the game. We would win!

Let’s break down hope a little more, shall we? When you think of hope, also think of conception and imagination. When you hope for something, you are imagining your desire until what you hope for is manifested. As you imagine the outcome, you will find that your imagination is accompanied by a positive emotion or feeling.

The benefits of hope gives you confident ammunition to combat stress, anxiety, fear, depression, or any unfavorable circumstance that may occur. Hope will help you kick those negative feelings to the curb.

So as you hope for things in this New Year, remember hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Like my high school soccer coach would say “Don’t give up hope.”

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Find Your Inner Peace

“Peace on earth…” a common phrase we hear during this time of the year, but what happens when the earth is in the middle of a crisis called COVID? I have the answer. Find your inner peace.

Whether it’s COVID, an unpaid bill, or an encounter with the “Grinch,” there will always be someone or something that will come along and try to steal your peace. However, just like there are opportunities to focus on the ongoing chaos we see in the world, there are also opportunities to focus on the positive things in life that can help us find and keep our inner peace. If you want to live a peaceful life, a great way to start is by establishing some mental boundaries. You are the boss. You are in charge. You have the final say as to what you will allow your mind to focus on and what you won’t allow your mind to focus on. It’s all about perspective. If you shift your perspective, you can reach a deeper level of inner peace.

How can you find your inner peace?

Fill your mind and focus it on things that are good, honest, respectable, and gracious. Focus on the best of a situation, instead of the worst. Focus on the beautiful things in life; the things that are worth smiling about. Your perspective is the filter on your reality that directly affects your level of inner peace. Whether you see the glass half full or half empty, you are right. So why not see it half full? There are so many things that we might not be able to change. However, the one thing we can change is our perspective and whether we will allow our inner peace to be taken from us.

My answer is no, and my hope for you is that you will find your peace on earth and never let it go.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

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Home for the Holidays

Guys, it’s November. Um, what?!

I can’t believe we are already in the month of November. It seems like just yesterday we were in the month of March, and the entire country was quarantining. Now here we are in November with the country opened up a little bit more, and we have officially entered into the holiday season. So, now that most of us will be home for the holidays, let’s talk about Continue reading

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Resources for Mental and Emotional Wellness

Anxiety and depression are among the most common symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. It can be challenging trying to navigate through life with a disease that affects both your body and your emotions. In this blog, I’d like to share some helpful resources for mental and emotional wellness. I want you to know that if you find yourself battling anxiety and depression, there are resources available to help you manage and improve your mental and emotional wellness.  Continue reading

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Yes, it’s common with MS, and you are not alone

On the MSAA helpline we are often asked the question if depression and anxiety are common with MS. Those diagnosed and/or their loved ones reach out wondering about these symptoms and if others experience them too. The answer is yes. These symptoms can be very common with MS and are experienced by many with the disease. Questions about why and how, are ones still being researched to this day. And in a year like we’ve had, will probably be highlighted even more so moving forward.

There are many factors that connect these symptoms to MS and the disease course. MS can affect parts of the brain that help to control and regulate emotions and behaviors. Side effects of medications, other symptoms, and changes in the body due to MS can also contribute to depression and anxiety. And let’s not forget the general life stressors and daily changes encountered all the time.

Learning that depression and anxiety are common with MS and happens to others can help to alleviate some of the stress and burden felt when questioning the symptoms. And though that doesn’t always necessarily make it easier to cope with or manage, finding validation and support are definitely helpful keys. The first step is talking about it. Finding someone trusted to confide in and disclose what you’re feeling is an action you owe yourself to take. There may be things that are out of your control when it comes to MS. But your ability and strength to share what you’re feeling is not lost.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, or even if you’re really not sure what it is that you’re feeling, talk to your doctor. Be open and honest about what’s going on. If you or others around you have concerns or questions, bring them up. And if you feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about symptoms with certain people in your life, then choose that one person you know will listen without judgment and that you would trust. Whether that’s a medical professional or starting the conversation with someone close to you. Do yourself that justice and reach out for support. There are many ways that depression and anxiety can be treated and managed, and you deserve to have it be so.

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Coping with Change

Coping with change is something that every human has had to experience at least once in their lives. Whether expected or unexpected, exciting, or disappointing, change is an inevitable part of living life. Learning to effectively cope with change comes with great benefits that can help improve your quality of life. Coping with change can also help lower your chances of experiencing anxiety and depression while increasing your level of resilience. Here are some helpful ways to increase your ability to cope with change.

Ask yourself, “What am I thinking?”

When changes arise, you might find that your mind automatically jumps to the worst possible outcome of the situation. If you notice this happening to you, slow down and take the time to sit down with yourself. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking?” Then, examine your thoughts to determine how rational they really are. You will find that in most cases, the worst possible outcome of the situation is extremely unlikely to occur.

Be in the Moment

During times of change, looking to the future can be a positive experience when it is done with expectation and positive thoughts. However, it can be a slippery slope when you are looking to the future with excessive worry about worst possible outcomes. It is important to be focused on the present moment, and not allow life changes to pull you towards negative future predictions. If you notice this happening to you, stop what you are doing, take a deep breath, and bring yourself back to the present.

Reach out for Support

As changes arise, there might be moments when you are feeling overwhelmed. It is important to realize that during these moments it might be best to reach out for emotional support. Talking with friends or family or even joining an online support forum can really make a big difference when you are coping with change. MSAA offers a great (and free) online community called My MSAA Community, https://mymsaa.org/msaa-community/my-msaa-community-forum, for individuals with MS, their families, and their care partners. This is a great resource for those who are looking for emotional support, especially during times of change.

Remember friends, we might not be able to control whether changes happen, but we can control how we respond and cope with those changes. You’ve got this!

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And The Beat Goes On…

We are a just a few months shy of seeing the end to 2020, and I don’t know that that’s necessarily a bad thing. To say that we’ve encountered our fair share of change this year is a massive understatement. The entire world shifted, and we essentially had to alter how we live and interact with one another. It was a change we didn’t see coming, but one that we had to adjust to quickly. We were given no choice and had to modify our day to day and try to make the best of an unpredictable and uncertain situation. Not unlike Continue reading

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