We asked people living with MS to share their top tips for wellbeing. Our blogger Barbara has looked at NHS Choices five steps to mental wellbeing and adapted them for people living with MS.
The first tip for wellbeing from NHS Choices is to connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
When we’re diagnosed with MS, we often want to hide away. If we’re not ready to attend a support group or meet up with other people with MS, another way to connect is through social media.
Even setting up a Twitter account and either ‘listening in’ to others with MS or starting to interact can make you feel less alone. There are also great forums on the MS Society website – they’ve been a lifesaver for me.
NHS Choices say, ‘you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life’.
I find being active is often difficult with MS - especially when I am going through a relapse. If you have a garden, you could take your secateurs and snip away for five, ten minutes.
I sometimes challenge myself to go outside my front door and walk for three or four minutes then back to my front door again.
There's some useful tips about exercising with MS on the MS Society's website.
Having MS is all about learning: learning to live and thrive with MS, and despite MS. What have you always wanted to do? For me, it was writing, and now I'm back at university.
I also want to learn how to strum a guitar (not play, perhaps). And take up ballroom dancing. The dancing is on hold at the moment, but I’m still going to master the guitar…
Give to others
When we are diagnosed with MS, it can often be hard adapting to sometimes accepting help - I know I struggled a lot with this. I've come to realise that accepting help from others doesn't mean we're not strong. MS makes us stronger than we ever thought possible.
During one of my darkest times, my friend left a cake outside my door – a simple gesture that meant a lot. Months later, I returned the favour. She needed my help and I was there for her too. MS, for once, was put to one side.
MS is so unpredictable, I've learned to live each day as fully as I can and appreciate every moment. It's only since MS that I realise I lived life on auto-pilot most of the time. Now, I am much more aware of how beautiful life really is.