Feeling lonely and isolated is common among people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). According to a 2018 survey by the Multiple Sclerosis Society, 60 percent of people living with MS experience loneliness as a result of their condition.
Staying connected to others while managing the symptoms of MS is no easy task, but if you’re able, it can benefit you immensely. In fact, a recent study found that having strong personal relationships can help lower the physical and psychological toll of MS.
How can you engage with others and avoid giving in to isolation, even on your hardest days? Here’s what folks who use the MS Healthline app to connect with others have to say.
1. Stick to a routine
“Keep a regular schedule to maintain good mental health. I get up, get dressed, eat healthily, get some exercise, connect with someone, find time to be creative, reward myself for accomplishing tasks, keep regular wake/sleep times. Writing down this plan and following it in case the day gets foggy helps.” — Fraz
2. Accept support and do something you dream about
“I spent years in isolation. I had my family but I was terrified of social interaction and being left vulnerable in front of others. It helps if you can have a support person nearby, but try going out. Do something you dream about, even if it’s just to go watch people do it.” — Elizabeth McLachlan
3. Join a group
“We MUST make an effort to get out there! Ever heard of Meetup? Check it out. Search in virtually anything you’re interested in. Chances are, there will be a meetup near you. It’s a great way to meet new people and experience things you will enjoy.” — Kathy Reagan Young
4. Embrace distractions
“Managing stress and finding peace when the walls are closing in and the visits end is ROUGH! I’m not a ‘FaceTime’ type girl, frankly, and I found chatting in [the MS Healthline app] is a huge distraction (in a good way)! Otherwise, I have been very conscious of what my body and symptoms are saying. Meditation (prayer mostly) has kept me sane. Movie time with the kids keeps me laughing and walking on the beach reminds me… this too shall pass.” — Pamela Mullin
5. Focus on balance
“I try to keep a balance in my life, by spending time by myself resting, doing the physical things I need to do to run my life, spending time talking to or being with friends and family, and painting watercolors. I also work hard on being thankful for the things I have in my life and try to avoid looking at the things I don’t have. Usually, this keeps me very content.” — Jo Hecker
6. Make time for laughter
“I FaceTime with the family. I look at funny stuff on Pinterest and Reddit to help me laugh. I watch a lot of comedies. I spend as much time as my body and mind allows in nature and in prayer.” — Harvey
The bottom line
Living with MS can feel isolating but putting yourself out there can go a long way toward managing your condition and living a more joyful life.
Remember: You’re never alone. Download the MS Healthline app and join the conversation.Find a community that caresThere’s no reason to go through an MS diagnosis or long-term journey alone. With the free MS Healthline app, you can join a group and participate in live discussions, get matched with community members for a chance to make new friends, and stay up to date on the latest MS news and research.The app is available on the App Store and Google Play. Download here.
Kristen Domonell is an editor at Healthline who is passionate about using the power of storytelling to help people live their healthiest, most aligned lives. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, meditation, camping, and tending to her indoor plant jungle.