Practical strategies for managing anxiety

Practical strategies for managing anxiety

1. Check in with yourself

When you’re worried about a particular symptom or situation, gently check in with yourself – what is your biggest fear with regards to your MS? Get a piece of paper, write it down. What’s the symptom that makes you anxious? Has it happened to you or is it a fear that it might happen to you in the future? Fear can sometimes be so overpowering that it can lead to social isolation and depression. As your own best friend, feel free to remind yourself that you deserve better than that.

2. Seek help and be informed

Seek out information and resources that you might need. If bladder problems are a fear, you can speak to an expert about options for managing bladder problems (such as MS Connect, an MS nurse, or a urologist). The bottom line here is that you’re not forcing down anxious feelings. Instead, you’re finding the answers so that you’re armed, and bladder problems don’t interrupt your day any more than they need to.

If the symptom is a reality and your fears have been grounded, then you can work on managing it in the best way going forward so you can continue with your life. Check in with yourself about the situation that’s causing your anxiety; is it fatigue problems and how they’re impacting you at work? Is it the thought of needing to go on the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme)? Is it the thought of what your mobility is going to be like in 15 years? Again, there are resources. At MSL and in your local communities too, there are occupational therapists for example. At MSL, there’s the Employment Support Service which may be able to help you explore some of the issues that might arise for you, as well as NDIS Support Coordination.

Remind yourself that knowledge is power. Live your life as fully as you can – you don’t have to spend all your spare time researching – just know where resources and other options are, then you can seek them out when you need them.

3. Seek support from others

In terms of counselling, there are mental healthcare plans through which you can see a psychologist, or a mental health social worker. On occasion, people are also able to get counselling as part of their NDIS plans when it’s related to their disability.

MSL has a long-standing dedicated Peer Support Program which runs telephone peer support, face to face groups, online groups and Telelinks. You can join online communities such as Facebook groups and blog posts. If you feel more comfortable talking to your normal friendship networks, then go ahead and do that.

Take action in whatever way works for you. Remember, it’s the leaps that terrify us. The small steps make us free.

Louise Pearson is an accredited mental health social worker, counsellor and Gestalt psychotherapist with almost 30 years’ experience working with people with neurological conditions. If you would like further information, she can be contacted via her website:

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