Staying well

MS can play havoc with your emotions. After diagnosis and throughout the course of their lives, people with MS must deal with a variety of feelings, including denial, fear, anger, guilt, grief, and sadness. And on top of that, they are also at a higher risk of depression. That's why it's so important to look after your mental health.

There's no 100% guaranteed way to prevent depression, but there are many things you can do to maintain your emotional and mental health. This will make it easier to deal with your MS and cope with depression if it does occur.

So what can you do to stay well, mentally and emotionally? The key is to find something that works for you. Here are a few things that others with MS have found helpful:

  • Exercise. Exercise has many benefits for people with MS. In addition to improving your physical fitness, it can also help with your mental health. People who exercise have less depression, a more positive attitude, and a more active social life. Even if you have low energy or physical challenges, there's an exercise program for you! Talk to your physiotherapist, occupational therapist, or physician about which exercises would be most appropriate for you.
  • Get enough sleep and eat well. You've heard it before, but it's true - if you're well fed and well rested, you'll be better able to deal with the challenges of the day.
  • Stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Many of us have an annoying negative voice in the back of our minds that comments on our actions and our performance. It's the one that says things like "I did a bad job on this project, and I'll probably mess up the rest of my work too." Start by becoming aware of what your internal voice is saying. You may be surprised at how negative some of your thoughts are. Try to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones. For example: "I'm not happy with my work on this project, but I've learned from it and I'll do better on the next one."
  • Recognize sources of stress in your life and find ways to cope. Planning ahead before stressful events, simplifying your life and getting rid of responsibilities you don't need, scheduling break times for yourself throughout the day, and looking for better ways to do tasks that you find stressful can all help to reduce your stress levels.
  • Stay in touch with family and friends whose company you enjoy. The emotional support, social contact, and humour that you enjoy with your family and friends all go a long way towards improving your mental health.
  • Ask for help. Don't feel guilty about asking for the help you need, whether it's support from your family and friends, medical help from your doctor, or workplace accommodations to make it easier for you to do your job.

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