by Allison Shadday, LCSW, Can Do MS Programs Consultant, Author of MS and Your Feelings: Handling the Ups and Downs of MS
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Most of us can benefit from managing our stress more effectively. However, for people with MS, managing stress may also help us manage our MS symptoms. When we feel more in control of how we react to the inevitable stresses in life, we feel better physically and emotionally.
Below are a couple of quick and easy stress management techniques that anyone can do with a bit of practice and a few minutes of time.
Body Scan (Do on a daily basis if possible)
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
- Begin to mentally scan the sensations in your body.
- Slowly move your attention from your toes to your head.
- Notice what you feel in each area of your body. If you feel any tension, breathe a warming and relaxing breath into the area and breathe out the tension.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Gently stretch and open your eyes.
Tea Pot Breathing Exercise (Do under extreme stress)
- Sit comfortably.
- Close your eyes and direct your attention to your breathing.
- Allow all thoughts and sensations to disappear. Focus fully on your breath as it flows in and out. You can imagine any unwanted thoughts or feelings leaving your body with each exhalation.
- Imagine that your body is now a teapot full of water. The water reaches up to your head and the water represents your stress.
- Taking a deep breath, with your eyes closed, release your breath slowly and make a hissing sound just as a teapot does when it is releasing steam. Imagine water flowing down through your body and out through your feet. Repeat two or three times and feel the stress leave your body.
These techniques, as well as exercise, yoga, meditation, talking with others, spending time in nature and playing with pets can all help minimize the impact that stress may have on you and your health.