Staying well under the ‘new normal’ with MS
You shouldn’t feel ashamed if your physical or mental health have taken a hit this year. Many people, whether they’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS) or not, have struggled to keep on top of their health and maintain healthy habits due to COVID-19. But there are things that you can do to get your physical and mental wellbeing back on track.
Read on to explore the widespread impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people living with MS, learn how your physical and mental wellbeing are linked and discover tips to help you stay well during this ‘new normal’.
Impact of COVID-19 on mental wellbeing
We recognise the reality of how COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the lives of people living with MS. A survey conducted by Shift.ms identified mental health as a factor which has been significantly impacted by the emergence of COVID-19, with 33% of people living with MS having experienced a worsening symptoms as a result of the pandemic impact on stress, anxiety or wellbeing.
“Phone calls in place of face-to-face appointments and having my annual MRI deferred has made me very anxious as I feel progression in my condition is being missed”
– Person living with MS, UK
You may have had to adapt to virtual care, with reduced contact with your healthcare team and potential disruption to the management of your MS resulting in feelings of stress and anxiety. Or maybe you have experienced more intense feelings of loneliness and low mood due to the time you’ve had to spend self-isolating and away from loved ones. Many people living with MS have been concerned that they are at an increased risk of COVID-19, so you’re not alone if these worries have also crossed your mind.
But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in what you’ve experienced or in how you’ve been feeling. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor – they might be able to discuss your problems and offer you the advice and support that you need.
Linking your physical and mental health
When the ‘mind’ and the ‘body’ are spoken about, people refer to them as two different things. But we shouldn’t be so quick to think of them as being separate. In fact, when it comes to your physical and mental wellbeing, they are remarkably interlinked. Reduced physical health can significantly increase your risk of poor mental health and mental health problems can have a similar impact on your likelihood of developing certain physical health conditions.
Your physical and mental wellbeing can also impact your brain health. For example, a positive mental wellbeing is linked to better cognitive function in older adults. Both brain volume and cognitive function are important components of brain health, helping to protect you against the progression of physical disability and cognitive impairment when living with MS and thereby reducing the impact that MS can have on your quality of life.
This is why it’s important for you take care of both your mind and body to protect your health and stay well with MS.