Everyone has good days and bad days but no mood lasts for ever. In Graham’s book, Feel Good, he looks at techniques for improving your mood and coping with whatever comes your way.
Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t
This will help you to improve positive feelings and raise your self-esteem by reminding you that, even if you can’t do everything you used to do, there are still lots of things you can achieve and feel good about. I know from my own experience that when you get a diagnosis of MS, your self-acceptance takes a blow. This exercise can give you a good way of coping.
Every evening for the next week, write down something that you have done well or completed to the level you hoped. This could be anything: something simple such as cooking a nice meal or tidying a cupboard that has long needed some attention. Write “I have had a success today because…” and complete the sentence.
Focus on your goals
MS doesn’t have to mean giving up on your goals, just changing the ways you might achieve them. Research has shown if you have a strong purpose in life you’re more likely to deal with stress better.
What are your goals? Make a note of them on a post-it note. How are you going to achieve them?
Practice relaxation and mindfulness
Mindfulness is about being aware of how your body feels, your emotions and the sounds and sights around you, as they are happening. Being mindful allows you to focus your attention in the present. It helps you to stop thinking back to the past and how things could have been different and worry less about what might happen in the future. There are many popular books and apps that will help you to pursue this.
Spend five minutes each day practising mindfulness: sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Notice how it feels. You may hear sounds around you. Observe these without thinking about what they are, or where they originate. You may recognise feelings in your body, in your legs, arms, back, or any part of your body. You will find that thoughts drift into your mind. Notice them, but don’t interact with them. Allow them to drift and watch them as they float away. This requires practice but you will feel the benefits as you learn to rest your mind.
MS and mindfulness
- Graham’s book, Feel Good: How to manage your mood and deal with whatever comes your way, is published by Capstone, a Wiley brand.
- everyday-mindfulness.org is an online community about mindfulness that was founded by Gareth Walker who has MS.
- BeMindful.co.uk is a website run by the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness of the benefits of mindfulness-based therapies as a treatment to improve mental and physical health.
- The MS Trust’s Move it For MS DVD includes a series of relaxation exercises ideal for people with MS.
- Find out more about mindfulness.