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Emotional Well-Being


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Overview of emotional well-being

Emotional well-being is an important component of overall wellness. In addition to affecting how we perceive ourselves and the world around us, emotions influence:
  • How you feel physically
  • Your motivation to attend to your health
  • How much and what you eat
  • The amount you exercise
  • How you relate to other people and to the larger world
  • How intensely and joyfully you engage in your chosen roles
Like other aspects of wellness, emotional well-being can be nurtured and enhanced, even in the face of changes and challenges.

Focus on the positive

The field of positive psychology emphasizes personal growth and well-being, based on the core belief that all people desire and look for happiness in their lives. Although happiness is defined in different ways, it involves focusing on your own unique goals and criteria for success and well-being. Happiness allows us to thrive, solve the problems we confront in our lives and maintain a strong sense of hope.
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Stay centered

The diagnosis of a chronic illness can be overwhelming and you will likely experience many emotions. Staying connected to one’s feelings, priorities and values can help calm the emotional turmoil that sometimes occurs in the face of life’s challenges. Find personal meaning  through spiritual practice and/or religious beliefs so you can become and stay centered and in touch with your inner self.

Manage stress

Stress is part of everyday life. The diagnosis of MS can sometimes make the stress of daily life feel overwhelming. Many people with MS say they experience more and/or worse symptoms during stressful times; when the stress abates, their symptoms seem less troubling or less severe.

Learning to eliminate unnecessary stressors — and manage the ones that are here to stay — is essential for staying on an even keel emotionally.

A range of strategies are available to help manage stress, for example meditation, relaxation exercises, individual or team sports, journaling, hobbies, time with family and friends are all ways that you may find help reduce your stress.

Practice solution-focused problem-solving

Life’s challenges and problems can mount quickly and sometimes feel too big to handle.  Challenges though can also be viewed as opportunities for creative problem solving.  Tackling problems from this perspective can increase coping strategies and lead to enhanced resilience. With each success, feelings of competence, pride and self-confidence grow stronger and contribute to emotional well-being.

Pay attention to your mood

Depression, anxiety and other mood changes are more common in people with MS than in the general population—in part as a reaction to the challenges of a chronic illness, but also because of changes in the brain and in the immune system that are part of the MS disease process. Depression is a serious yet treatable symptom of MS; it needs the careful assessment and treatment that other MS symptoms do. When emotional distress is such that you have lost pleasure in doing the things you once enjoyed and feel hopeless, it is important to seek professional help. If you’re not sure or if you answer yes to either question here, talk to your healthcare provider.

Build and nurture relationships

Meaningful relationships can provide connection, intimacy, support and opportunities for shared goals and shared problem-solving. Positive relationships reduce feelings of isolation and promote a sense of stability in everyday life.

Recognize family needs

MS may affect daily life, roles and responsibilities and shared goals and dreams.
  • Feelings of grief and loss are common among family members.
  • Anxiety is a fairly universal response to the unknown, and anger and frustration can build when answers and solutions seem out of reach.
  • Depression is common in caregivers — family members who provide hands-on care for a loved one. 
  • Children who have a parent with MS may have questions they do not know how to ask as well as feelings they cannot put into words. Keep S’myelin, a Society magazine for children ages 6-12, provides age-appropriate information about MS as well as guidance for parents on how to talk about the disease and the feelings that kids may be experiencing.
Spouses and partners, parents, and other family members can benefit from the same tips and strategies as their loved ones with MS. Family members should report mood changes to their healthcare provider in the same way you report mood changes and other MS symptoms.

Find an MS care provider

The National MS Society’s Partners in MS Care program connects you to local health care providers and medical facilities that have demonstrated exceptional care, knowledge and expertise in treating patients with MS. All partners, whether they are a neurologist or social worker, have a strong relationship with the Society and connect their patients to the information, resources and support they need to live their best lives with MS. Find a Partner in MS Care.

Additional resources

The resources below provide more information on emotional well-being, tips on maintaining good mental health and advice for seeking help when you need it.


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