Dear Anxiety, I’m in Control, Not You

A time of change often comes with its own set of challenges – anxiety is one of the most difficult among them. For those living with multiple sclerosis (MS), the idea of transitioning from relapsing–remitting MS to secondary progressive MS emits fear of the “unknown;” a fear of losing independence, a fear of worsening symptoms and maybe even a fear of the future.

We all know that worrying solves nothing but living in the moment isn’t always as easy as it sounds. However, we can challenge ourselves to take it “one day at a time” and manage our anxiety to the best of our ability.

1. Practice Yoga

For thousands of years, people have practiced yoga to achieve mental and spiritual well-being. Yin yoga, which aims to still the mind, is ideal for those who are seeking relaxation. Breathing techniques taught during these practices can also be used outside of the studio to relieve anxiety.

2. Download a Meditation App

Smartphones and tablets are not just for communicating with others – they can now provide a deeper look into yourself. Download one of the many apps available for guided meditations and escape to a “safe space” when you become overwhelmed by the “unknown.”

3. Treat Yourself

At times, anxiety can be symptomatic, causing muscles aches, headaches and even stomach issues. Should your worry lead to physical ailments, alleviate symptoms by treating yourself to a day at the spa. Spending time in a sauna or getting a massage are both natural ways to increase the body’s production of endorphins – “happy” hormones that have been proven to relieve pain and fight stress.

4. Give Gratitude

When you’re feeling down about your current (or future) limitations due to disease, give an exercise in gratitude a try. Begin each day by listing five things you’re grateful for. Maybe it’s your husband, who has your coffee ready for you each morning; or on a tough day, your ability to get out of bed to feed the cat. When you take the time to appreciate the small things, your positive outlook can cast away worries.

5. Be Present

One of the most effective ways to live in the moment is to keep yourself occupied. Filling your mind with things you find enjoyable will limit the amount of time you find yourself anxiously awaiting the future. Enjoy an afternoon cup of tea with a neighbor, join a book club or take up knitting and donate hats and scarves to a local homeless shelter – the options are limitless. What’s important is that you are enjoying the “here and now” every moment that you can.

For those living with anxiety, each day can be an uphill battle. The future may appear overwhelming, but remember you are not alone. Your family, friends, and yes – the Living Like You community, is beside you each step of the way. You’ve got this!

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