MS and Anxiety
People with MS worry. They worry about how their functioning will change and what their symptoms will look like in a year.
Worry leads to stress and stress leads to anxiety. Anxiety is a chronic worry that can be focused on something specific or generalized to include most aspects of your life. In either case, learning relaxation is the best combatant to anxiety. Here are some relaxation methods to consider:
- Deep breathing – Deep breathing is the first relaxation technique to learn. It is the simplest and most basic skill that can be applied to other skills. Assume a comfortable position either sitting or laying down. Put your right hand on your stomach and left hand on your chest. As you breathe in, feel your right hand moving while your left stays still. The goal is to fill your lungs entirely by using your diaphragm to suck in air.
Most people move their shoulders when breathing deeply but this only partially fills lungs. Work to extend the seconds inhaling and exhaling. Five seconds in and seven seconds out is a great goal but three in and five out might be your starting point. Deep breathing provides access to extra oxygen, which allows your heart to slow down. Repeat as needed.
- Autogenic training – Autogenics is a type of self-hypnosis where you repeat a series of phrases to yourself. A quick online search will yield great scripts to use as a guide. Autogenics allows for endless modification and manipulation to obtain your desired effect. These messages work to retrain your thinking to be more desirable while training your body to be more relaxed. Self-hypnosis can help the brain reconnect with the areas of your body damaged by MS.
- Guided imagery – Guided imagery involves listening to a script or reading a script to yourself. It often involves thinking about yourself on a tropical island or a relaxing destination from your past and serve as a distraction from your stressors, allowing your mind and body to become refreshed. Countless examples are available online of both written and audio scripts. Find one or many that work for you.
Embrace rather than denying or ignoring these feelings so that you can improve them. Being active in your treatment is always better than being passive. If you can, complete some or all of the tips listed above your mental health will surely improve. With luck, your physical health will follow and your overall well-being will improve. There is no good reason to wait. Start today.