In this second part of the Wheel of Health in Multiple Sclerosis, we will address the psychological factors that can be affecting the health of your body.
The Wheel of Health in Multiple Sclerosis – Stress and MS
“The psychosocial factors are closely associated with MS onset and may play important roles in the development of the disease.” — study on the “Relationship between Psychosocial Factors and Onset of Multiple Sclerosis”
In most books, these psychological factors will all be grouped into one chapter on stress and MS. In this presentation, Eva M Clark divides that stressors into four clear psychological and social categories and explains how it’s not what has happened in our lives but how we cope with those moments that can create havoc in the body.
Eva M Clark splits stress and MS into two main factors, social and psychological factors.
Our relationships play an important role in our health. Cancer research shows that adequate community support plays a strong role in healing. It is not any different with multiple sclerosis. Do you feel supported? Are you able to ask for help? Are you too dependent emotionally (codependence) or too independent (isolated) with others? Unhealthy relationships can let us, and our bodies, feel hopeless, and can be a constant source of stress.
One area most of us struggle with is expressing our feelings. Is it ok to express them or have you grown up learning to repress them for fear of making someone else uncomfortable? Repressing anger, pretending that you are not grieving, living with a continuous sense of guilt or shame effects your mental and physical health. The expression “It’s been eating me up inside.” describes the reaction of the immune system to these emotions quite accurately.
How we relate to others is an important factor but so is how we relate to ourselves. Most of us have been phrased as children when we are nice to others but are we nice to ourselves? Allowing yourself to have a harsh inner critic, self loathing, putting yourself down anytime you make a mistake (not something you would do to another) and putting your job’s needs (workaholic) or a family member’s needs above your own is a sign that there is work to be done to gain self-respect, self-love, and greater self-care. By always beating yourself up, you are telling your immune system to protect everyone else but yourself.
Be Your Authentic Self
“We have two basic needs – to have healthy attachments and to be our authentic selves.” — Dr. Gabor Mate “When the Body Says No”
Learning to care for yourself above all else is a hard one to master and not something taught in childhood, yet it’s necessary. Without a greater focus on yourself and your needs, you won’t discover what your unique gifts, dreams, and desires are. Life is not about getting all A+’s, reaching the next promotion, and always competing with others, but about becoming your most authentic self. And your body knows that.
This presentation was made by Eva M Clark at the MS Self-Help Group of Santa Cruz.