How to stay calm and carry on during the coronavirus crisis when you have MS

stay calm

COVID 19 · Article

The last few weeks have been really exhausting for me. As the coronavirus crisis spread, I said, “Ok I am prepared. My job is mostly digital, I have a nice home and a home office, I know how it feels to be house bound because of my MS. Everything is good.”

Well, this was a big fail. When the government issued the rules about social distancing and the importance of staying at home, it was not as easy as I had first thought. There is a big difference between being able to leave your home at any time and when you have to stay at home. It can start to feel very limiting. 

After some days in a paralyzed status, I started to organize my new life, embracing it as the “new normal”. Because it is important to retain a sense of self whilst in insolation and not let it get swept away by coronavirus. 

So, here are the things I have done during the last weeks; things that have worked for me and also for other people.

    In most countries you are allowed to leave the house for a walk or to do some exercise. It is important to use this opportunity to have some fresh air, take another perspective and see the spring flowers coming out. Some of you may also have a terrace or a balcony, if you can’t go out, use this space to breath, stretch and just get out of the house.  Set up a daily time to do it.

    This certainly isn’t a holiday, right? So, wake up as usual, start your day with a lovely cup of tea or coffee and make a plan for the day ahead. My daily routine is to wake up a 7.30, have breakfast with my husband and then start to work in my home office. Then I prepare lunch and have a good break to eat and have a look outside. In the afternoon I do my laundry, clean the house or make a shopping list for the grocery store. Also, I have some nice hobbies like reading, knitting or having a coffee with a friend, virtually of course. 

    Definitely not. I use online communities or tools like Skype or FaceTime to keep in touch with friends. It really helps to have a coffee with a friend and a relaxing virtual chat. This is also very inspiring for me and I became a member of a virtual book club. 

    Have you had ideas for a long time but never had chance to get them on paper? Then this is a great opportunity. Start to think about your idea, create a plan and start to realize it. 
    Another way to get creative is to think about the current situation and how you could help.  I support the voluntary fire department in my town by sewing masks and helping to organize fabric and haberdashery. You can have a look for organisations that need your support. Many things can be done from home digitally.

    What’s more, if there are children in your area, you could start to read books to them online. A friend of mine is doing this and it’s great for everyone. To help others is good for the whole society and shows solidarity. 

    Creativity can also mean making a start on all those DIY Projects you’ve been holding off or learning something new. Whether it’s starting to sew, crotchet, knit, making funny collages for friends from old magazines, or painting a picture, all these things can help keep your mind active and turn difficult times, into good.

    You could even start an online course at a university or college. This could be especially helpful if you are looking for a new job.

    Relaxing and getting plenty of rest is really important in times like this. I have started to use my meditation app for sleeping. I have also reduced the number of times I watch the news. In the beginning it was overwhelming. I am a journalist so I’m used to dealing with lots of information, but in this case, it was too much. I decided to check the news just three times a day and to look at just a hand-full of selected and trustworthy sources. It is still a lot but enough to keep me informed and to help other people. And I only do this during the day and never before bed. In fact, before I go to sleep, I take five minutes to think about the day and the things I am grateful for. This helps me to see the good things in the bad and to find inner peace.

    Every one of us has some picture postcards at home – those old souvenirs bought but never used. Dig them out, now is the perfect time to send a little note to your friends and family. You don’t need to say much, just a simple “Hello” to cheer them up. You might even receive some back. Or why not write a good old letter by hand? And don’t forget the telephone is a great option to be in touch. Physically speaking to someone can feel so much better than just texting. 

    So, what are you doing at the moment? What books and movies can you recommend? What are you doing to stay relaxed? How do you organize your day? We’d love to hear your ideas and to know more about your projects. 

    In the meanwhile, stay home, stay safe and look after yourself.

Date of approval: April 2020

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