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As everyone around the world is adapting to the new ‘normal’ and we navigate the realities brought to us by COVID-19, it’s important to remember that self-isolating does not mean that you are alone! Far from it in fact. Whilst we are living through unprecedented and incredibly challenging times, especially so for all members of the MS community, we can all unite by taking control and supporting each other. Community and coming together are a remarkably positive way of combatting that very real and natural sense of anxiety and stress COVID-19 can bring.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified that those living with neurological conditions (such as MS) are at higher risk of infection or complications from COVID-19 than the general public1. As such, all people with MS are advised to pay particular attention to current guidelines for reducing the risk of infection with COVID-192,3.

During this time, it’s very important to stay home and stay on-top of both your physical and mental health4. While of course those living with MS are pros at maintaining a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle, we thought in addition to staying at home, it might help to give you some extra tips that are sensible and easy to manage as part of a routine lifestyle.

Physical health tips:

Here are some ways you can help yourself and those around you stay as healthy as possible5:

  • Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or if you are not near a sink, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. For more information how to ensure your hands are clean, click here
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throw the tissue away
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched frequently
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and stay at home
  • It is equally important for family members and carers to carry out the same level of hygiene and care for themselves

If you experience any symptoms related to COVID-19, stay home and immediately call your doctor to discuss next steps.

Mental health tips:

With everything going on in the world around COVID-19, it is natural that you might feel a strain mentally. It is okay to feel down and uncertain about how things are unfolding at the moment but try not to put pressure on yourself to feel bright and cheery when you don’t feel that way. Try these tips below on how to keep a positive mental outlook6:

  • Self-isolation is a chance to get in touch with others in different ways than usual; perhaps over social media, FaceTime, e-mail or on the phone. These are good ways to keep close to the people who matter to you7
  • Experiment with new and nutritious meals. It's a great way to keep your body and mind nourished and your hands active
  • Try connecting with other people living with MS and share your tips and experiences through the various online MS communities
  • If you want to do research around COVID-19, look at trusted sources of information from professional and patient focused groups
  • Stay as active as possible. Lighter forms of exercise such as meditation or yoga are easy to do at home and are a great way to keep your mind and body active. Maybe try an online exercise video tailored specifically for people living with MS
  • Create a self-isolation resolution. This can be anything from learning a new language, completing a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, teaching yourself an instrument or gaining an online qualification. Turn this time into something positive and productive!

It’s essential that you stay on-top of both your physical and mental health so try these tips above and let us know via our Facebook page of any other tips or advice you have for our community. We will also be sharing some community activities and more content from our community in the coming weeks – so keep an eye out for those!

 

 

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020). If You Are at Higher Risk. Available at:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fhigh-risk%2Fhigh-risk-complications.html. Accessed: March 2020
  2. MS Society. MS and coronavirus care and support. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/care-and-support/ms-and-coronavirus-care-and-support. Accessed: March 2020
  3. MS International Federation. Available at: https://www.msif.org/news/2020/02/10/the-coronavirus-and-ms-what-you-need-to-know/ Accessed: March 2020
  4. NHS.  Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/. Accessed: March 2020
  5. MS Trust. Coronavirus COVID-19 and multiple sclerosis - update 13 March. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/Node/59383. Accessed: March 2020

 

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