Dealing with stress when you have MS

Living with MS can be stressful. Making certain lifestyle changes can help ease stress and make it easier to cope. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Having a chronic illness like multiple sclerosis (MS) can greatly increase your stress levels. Many issues associated with MS, such as unpredictable symptoms and the cost of treatment, can make stress worse. It's also possible that stress itself can worsen MS symptoms. To help manage stress while living with MS:

Adjust your sleeping schedule

  • Make healthy sleep a priority. Missing out on sleep can increase your risk of depression and other mood disorders.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, when possible. Regular sleep schedules maintain the timing of your body's internal clock and can improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Get extra sleep the night before special events, such as parties.
  • Wake up earlier to give yourself extra time to complete tasks.
  • Schedule regular rest periods so that you have time to recharge.

Use relaxation techniques

  • Yoga, a series of breathing and stretching exercises, can help reduce tension.
  • Tai chi, which involves slow, deliberate movements, can aid in relaxation. Many tai chi positions can be performed while sitting down.
  • Meditation, or spending time in quiet thought, can help you relax and de-stress.
  • Deep breathing, by itself, can help your body feel more comfortable and reduce stress by easing tension.

Seek support from others

  • Tell your friends and family about your illness. Having loved ones who understand the challenges you encounter can help relieve stress.
  • Join a support group in your area, so you can share experiences with people who know what you're going through.
  • Find a therapist who can help you come up with ways to cope with stressful situations.
Nov. 14, 2013 See more In-depth