To Thine Own Self Be Kind: Spreading the Message of Self-care

To Thine Own Self Be Kind: Spreading the Message of Self-care
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I give freely of my heart and wear it proudly on my sleeve. Those who know me would say it waves. I care deeply for my family, friends, and colleagues. I derive immense joy in my volunteer work with rescue animals. Be it Walk MS, animal welfare, or a community need, I do my best to advocate on behalf of others.

Caring has been both my strength and my weakness. I have touted the importance of self-care for years. Only recently, however, have I considered myself worthy of receiving it.

Self-care is integral for our ability to live with chronic disease, and absolutely imperative if we are to thrive if living with multiple sclerosis. Disease does not make self-care easy, but it does make it necessary. When we care for our needs, we strengthen the foundation of our home. Upon a strong home, we can build a formidable structure and are then better equipped to help others build theirs.

My life is different than it was one month ago. The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have created more stress than I can comfortably manage. Prone to anxiety, I use techniques daily to keep stress levels low. Inevitably, there are triggers for an MS attack, such as pain or emergent circumstances. These aside, I’ve learned to recognize when to use what I know. Deep breathing, guided imagery, meditation, music, and prayer as well as professional therapy and medications have all helped me mitigate my anxiety.

But I recently fell outside of my comfort zone. No matter what I tried, I felt my anxiety levels rise. With each passing day, the wave grew taller, stronger, and more ominous. I knew the inevitable crash was imminent. At that moment, I utilized my best resource — my brain — and called my therapist. He is one of several invaluable members of my team of physicians. Although I no longer see him regularly, he has ready access to my care. He can see my appointments and medications as well as confer with physicians. Thanks to telemedicine, we were able to discuss, then address, my concerns.

Our rapport made it easy to map out a helpful plan. While things have not been perfect, they are better. Step by step, they will continue to improve. The most important step was the first, which was giving myself permission to take care of me.

When we implement self-care, we tell ourselves that we are worthy. We can then allow ourselves to receive the necessary care we might have ignored. Through our actions, we can encourage others and liberate them to choose the same.

In a world where we can be anything, let us first be kind to ourselves.

***

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. She is also an active advocate in the MS community. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.
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Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. She is also an active advocate in the MS community. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.
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6 comments

  1. Jessie Ace says:

    Hang in there, Jen! As someone great told me the other day we have to ’embrace the suck’ so we are able to handle it. Calling your therapist was a great idea, I hope it helped! Remember, there is no point worrying or stressing about things we cannot control. It just harms our bodies. Try the 5-minute rule where you shout/scream/cry or do whatever you need to do to get it out of your system for 5 minutes then shout ‘can’t change it!’ It’ll interrupt your brain waves and your brain will move on. We will get through this! 🙂

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Jessie,

      Thank you so much for imparting your wisdom! I generally meditate in the morning and use 20 minutes to clear my head. It hasn’t been as effective as I would have liked it to be lately. I will try again today as it’s a beautiful new opportunity!

      Embrace the suck! My motto and something that has helped me metabolize then move on. As someone who prides themselves on her strength it is humbling to ask for help. That said it reminds me that strength is knowing when to do so.

      I so value and appreciate you! Stay well.

      Kindly,
      Jenn

      • Therry Neilsen-Steinhardt says:

        I’ve been using the app Insight Timer on my Android phone, and I find it vry helpful for those times when I’m just spiraling into anxiety. My two favorite teachers are Kenneth Soares and Jennifer Piercy, both of whom offer helpful sleep meditations. You will undoubtedly find helpful teachers on your path as well. I use wireless headphones to listen to the meditations in bed as my MSsomnia kicks in almost every night!

  2. Jennifer Powell says:

    Therry,

    Thank you for your terrific suggestions- I just looked at/dL the app!

    Despite experiencing a setback with anxiety I see this moment as such a profound opportunity to grow and learn. Thank you for helping me to do both.

    Kindly,
    Jenn

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