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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Handling Stress - Mind-Body Basics for People with MS

Learning how to get a handle on stress (so it doesn’t manhandle you!) not only helps you manage multiple sclerosis symptoms, it may help you prevent them too.


Mindy Eisenberg was just a child when her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. But she remembers like it was yesterday.
“The philosophy was very different at the time,” Eisenberg, 55, says. “My mother was told not to move, to stay as sedentary as possible.”
Over the next 25 years, Eisenberg watched her mother’s condition slowly deteriorate, until she was largely limited to using a wheelchair or staying in bed. She eventually ended up in a nursing home.
A lot has changed in the decades since Eisenberg’s mother was diagnosed. Not only has modern medicine improved the treatments available for MS, but there's also a much more holistic approach. “Now doctors tell you that you absolutely should move and do whatever you can to stay active,” says Eisenberg, who lives in Franklin, MI. We now know that in addition to improving overall health and quality of life, exercise can directly combat the symptoms of MS.
There’s also a growing awareness of how mind-body therapies can also help people living with MS, says Eisenberg, who runs a nonprofit group called Yoga Moves MS, which offers MS patients yoga and other complementary therapies like mindfulness meditation to help manage their symptoms and reduce stress.

How Exactly Can Mind-Body Therapy Help?

The term “mind-body therapy” refers to a group of healing techniques that can induce relaxation and improve overall health and well-being.
“Mind-body interventions may be an incredibly helpful, low-cost, and low-risk way to help cope with stress and anxiety,” says Kathy Zackowski, Ph.D., an occupational therapist and scientist who serves as senior director of patient management, care, and rehabilitation research for the National MS Society.
Numerous studies have shown the mind can have a big impact on a person’s physical symptoms, Zackowski explains. Stress and anxiety in particular can play a role in increasing MS symptoms, and many people may have a flare-up during especially trying times, she says.
“That’s why mindfulness and resilience training may be really important, because if we can develop strategies to harness the strength of the mind, maybe we can improve our ability to function or temper how our body reacts,” Zackowski explains. “More research is needed in this area, but one goal of such studies would be to see if mind-body therapy may help slow the progress of MS, in addition to improving symptoms.”
Still, even if new science reveals promising results from mind-body therapies, it won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution, Zackowski says. You may need to try several different techniques to see what works for you.

Want to Give Mind-Body Therapy a Try? Start Here

“We don’t know that there’s one mind-body strategy that works better than all the others, so it’s important that people figure out what feels good to them,” Zackowski says.
Options include:
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Music therapy
  • Tai chi or qi gong, which are both forms of moving meditation
  • Guided imagery, in which you’re guided in imagining a relaxing scene or series of experiences
  • Aromatherapy, which uses the scent of concentrated plant oils, known as essential oils, to improve feelings of well-being
  • Mindfulness techniques, which may simply involve being present in the moment or focusing on your breath

READ MORE:
https://www.healthcentral.com/article/guided-imagery-may-reduce-depression-and-fatigue-in-ms

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