Multiple sclerosis often involves “stormy” periods that can rattle the foundations for you and your family members. The “storms” or challenges of MS may include adapting to the diagnosis, changes in functional abilities and the use of new or different adaptive devices, among other obstacles. Or, it may involve daily challenges such as driving independently or overcoming a fatiguing day of work. During such challenging times, you and your loved ones may feel down, exhausted and defeated. Learning to cope effectively with these obstacles helps strengthen and prepare you to meet future challenges. In other words, successful coping helps increase your resilience.
What exactly is coping, and what steps can you take to enhance your resilience? What tools can help you weather future storms? We all develop building blocks or coping strategies, knowingly or unknowingly, which strengthen our ability to manage challenges. In managing MS, rehabilitation is one of the most common and most effective coping strategies. Exercise and adaptations at home, at work, and in your lifestyle can assist with working through these difficult times and ultimately help you feel more resilient in the face of new challenges. For example, participating in a community-based weight training class may not only help improve your muscular strength, but it may also help you get out of the car without assistance from your spouse or loved one – allowing you the opportunity to increase your independence in the community. Or, when faced with the challenge of overwhelming fatigue, you take charge of your schedule by re-arranging your routine to allow time to rest, re-charge, and re-fuel your energy tank.
The ability to problem-solve and cope with similar physical challenges through rehabilitation enhances your and your family’s ability to weather current and future MS “storms” as well as increasing everyone’s resilience in the face of MS-related changes.
Click here to get even more great tips on this topic by viewing our archived webinar on Coping with MS: Using Rehabilitation to Enhance Resilience.