Coping with daily demands of MS can cause tiredness, frustration, and burnout. Check out the tips to evade feeling overwhelmed.
Coping with a disease such as multiple sclerosis is not easy. The everyday physical and emotional demands of – reining-in MS symptoms such as fatigue, visiting doctors and other healthcare professionals for therapy, tests, and treatments, while attempting to do the everyday activities of work and family, can leave patients feeling fatigued, beaten, and burned out.
Burnout is an emotional condition which is identified by tiredness, frustration, and hopelessness — all emanating from prolonged stress. ”Patients may be concerned about how unpredictable the disease is, what the future might bring, and how to manage all the things on their plate when they’re not feeling so well,” says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, clinical psychologist and vice president of clinical care at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “One can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it, and not know which problem to try to solve first.”
How Setting Manageable Goals Can Help
Denise Belle of Knightdale, North Carolina was diagnosed with MS when she was mere 20-year-old with an ambition of becoming a nurse. ”I was devastated,” she says. ”When you’re 20, you think you’re invincible.”
After myriad relapses and trips to the hospital to cope with the spasms she was having in her hands, face, and legs, she began taking medication, began taking better care of herself, and eventually confronted reality. ”It took me three to five years after my diagnosis to really come to grips with it and say, ‘This is my life,”’ she adds.
She stayed in school however shifted her ambitions from becoming a nurse to becoming a public health advocate instead – and that helped her to manage her condition. Years of graduate school work aided her in setting manageable goals for herself. Through her public health advocacy work she was able to create a sense of purpose.
“I’m a type A personality, and I love a good challenge,” Belle admits. “When I was told that I might not be able to finish school because of my MS, I said ‘No way! I’ve come too far!’” Belle ended up finishing her master’s degree in three years and graduating with honors.
More Tips for Taming MS Burnout
Get Your Health Team In Place.
”It’s easy to look at each of your symptoms and not know which one to tackle first,” says Dr. Kalb. ”That’s why comprehensive care is so vital.” Work with professionals like neurologists, physical and occupational therapists, and the like who can help you to manage every aspect of your disease. Get their help to manage your relapses, and enhance function of your body.
Get Support From family And Friends.
Take support of your family, friends, and even fellow patients. Belle credits her mother, her boyfriend William, and her girlfriends for giving moral-support to her during her darkest times. ‘I can be my most vulnerable with my ‘sisters’,” she says, referring to a small group of friends she regularly leans on for support.
Rest, Relax, And Recreate.
Try to remain cool all the time – that helps reduce stress. Plus take as much rest as you can and when you need it. ”You have to listen to your body,” says Belle. ”When it’s telling you that it’s exhausted and requires rest, you have to stop and rest.”
Adopt Healthy Habits.
Eat nutritious food and exercise daily to help bring balance into your life. Belle walks on a treadmill and lifts weight for strength training when she can. ”I also meditate daily for 15 minutes,” she says, which helps her to manage stress and revitalize.
Allow Yourself Time To Grieve.
MS can leave you seriously worn out and you’ll want to grieve. Belle confesses that the most exacting moments for her are the ones when her symptoms aggravate. ”I have to be pretty honest and open to the fact that not every day is going to be a good day,” she says.
Become A Problem-Solver.
Whenever you face a new challenge you must invent strategies for overcoming them. ”We know that people who have problem-solving coping strategies do much better than people who react in a more emotional way,” says Kalb
Tap Into Local Resources.
Turn to the National MS Society and other patient advocacy groups and find out what resources are available to you in your community. When Belle’s headaches and muscle pain worsened she submitted an ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) work accommodations request that allowed her to work from home when necessary.
Watch For Signs Of Depression.
Look for any changes that seem to indicate you’re in depression. “If you feel sad, miserable, and hopeless for days or weeks on end, without any let up, and if you lose interest in the things that used to give you pleasure and enjoyment, that’s depression,” says Kalb. Talk to your doctor if you feel depressed.