Coping skills and your health

Hope isn't a passive state: it requires energy and a commitment to yourself. It's a drive to set and reach a goal, which translates into its more concrete counterpart: coping. Feeling that you can handle a stressful or difficult situation (the hope part) helps develop a positive outlook - and lets you gain some control over the outcome. Does the ability to cope actually have a measurable impact on health? Yes. Many studies have found that coping skills have a positive effect on health - physically, mentally and emotionally.

Caregivers are also well aware that hope works hand-in-hand with therapy - it's often the "hidden ingredient in any prescription," as Norman Cousins (the famous proponent of laughter as medicine) says.

 

This article was amended from an article published in the Winter 2003 Compass, by Sheryl Clarke, BScN, RN.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Have-Faith

Facing challenges

The strain that a diagnosis of MS puts on your ability to cope is especially challenging. Initial feelings of hopelessness, coupled with fear and uncertainty, are normal responses to facing a difficult, life-changing illness. At first, you might do some soul-searching, which will reveal deep-seated hopes and dreams and can lend your life heightened focus and meaning. But these hopes are re-evaluated when the course of the illness disturbs the pattern of life and health you've come to expect.

MS is a chronic condition that, over time, may worsen. Adapting to these progressive changes can bring on anxiety and fear, which are perfectly acceptable - and often necessary - reactions to the unknown. But as you gradually adjust to these new challenges, a life-affirming transformation can take place. You'll find the right questions to ask, understand how to change self-defeating behaviour, and discover new ways to cope. You'll also find the strength to make occasional adjustments to your goals by "making peace" with the course of the illness.

 

This article was amended from an article published in the Winter 2003 Compass, by Sheryl Clarke, BScN, RN.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Have-Faith

What are your coping strategies?

Coping strategies are different for all of us, and you'll know which are best for you. Self-analysis or seeing a counsellor will help you step outside yourself to get a more objective view.

Ask your doctor or nurse questions about MS to help you understand what's happening. This will allow you to get a handle on your condition and expectations. Take action: weigh your alternatives and change your priorities. Focus on your lifestyle: do you need to alter your role at work or at home? Be determined to keep going and take as much control as possible over your life and the decisions that affect it.

Enjoy and have fun with family and friends - humour is an essential part of keeping the negatives from swamping you. Healthcare providers understand the importance of the motivational force of hope, and they support treatments that can positively alter its course until a cure is found. A commitment between health partners and patients towards mutual and realistic goals of rehabilitation and wellness go a long way towards improving quality of life. By embracing hope, you can begin the process of living, and not just existing, with MS.

 

This article was amended from an article published in the Winter 2003 Compass, by Sheryl Clarke, BScN, RN.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Have-Faith

Reach out to loved ones

Hope is fuelled by sharing. Welcome the support of others through your thoughts, feelings and actions. Talk to friends, family and caregivers. Establish relationships with people who make you feel good about yourself and are available to discuss your therapy, whether you experience progress or have a setback. They can also help you make informed decisions.

People with MS show extraordinary courage as they deal with the variability of their condition and incorporate new realities into their lives. This courage can be bolstered through the support of others, by maintaining hope, and by making gains in effective coping skills. All these factors are essential to help you adjust activity levels, make changes in your workplace, or create strong new bonds with family and friends.

Don't give up
Your friends, family and healthcare team are committed to you. They're there for you, whether encouraging you during the peaks or helping you cope with the valleys. Share your hopes and fears with them - it's an essential part of coping with MS.

 

This article was amended from an article published in the Winter 2003 Compass, by Sheryl Clarke, BScN, RN.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Have-Faith