Could music be part of your MS coping strategies?

Are you looking to reduce stress and improve your quality of life and MS? Then you might get a bit of inspiration in this post. Among other things, we address music as a possible tool for increasing quality of life.

Life with MS can be stressful for many reasons – you know this for sure.

When did you feel most stressed?

  • Was it up to the diagnosis?
  • After the diagnosis?
  • Or just generally along the way due to future prospects, finances, variable symptoms, lack of understanding from the outside world, invisible symptoms etc?

Some MSers feel that stress is not good for their MS. They even feel that stress can aggravate the symptoms.

Positive coping strategies and a flexible approach to life with MS are therefore important. There is no way around that. We have previously learned about examples of using a flexible approach to life with MS in this post about lifestyle and exercise.

Some of the strategies we use on a daily basis can promote positive coping and increase the quality of life – such as being social with your friends or having a balanced mindset that is not influenced by catastrophic thinking.

However, other strategies can actually reduce our flexibility and adaptability – such as isolation, self-criticism, and pessimism. For this reason, it is important to choose the strategies which have a positive impact on your quality of life.

This is probably not new to you. Regardless, it may be beneficial to explore the subject further.

Put on your detective spectacles and explore your everyday life! You need to assess what works well for you in your everyday life – and do more of it. Don’t forget to find out what doesn’t work – and do less of that.

Give yourself permission and time to explore and modify your strategies.  Perhaps you could borrow a book from the library about mindset and coping to explore further ideas and perspectives about this.

Do try and spend some time analyzing the thoughts behind your own actions and patterns. By looking at your own situation from a slightly different point of view, you may be able to see the situation as a challenge instead of a problem. This change in words (from problem to challenge) creates a sense of positivity as well as a problem-solving mindset.

Positive coping strategies and exercise

A common example of how negative thoughts can impact our emotions and actions is to do with exercise. In the past, you may have tried to incorporate a new exercise routine. Perhaps you didn’t quite succeed in maintaining it. Your automatic thought might be – “I’m lazy”. Thoughts like this can result in feelings of frustration and pessimism. These feelings also give rise to certain actions – maybe you give up completely or you just stay in bed.

Now try to question your automatic thought instead of allowing it to determine your feelings and actions. Is it really true that I am lazy? Maybe I am just experiencing some barriers that make exercising harder.

Maybe one of your barriers is fatigue due to heat intolerance. What measures could you then take to make it easier to exercise despite the heat intolerance? Isn’t heat intolerance just a challenge that you can find solutions to – rather than a problem that you can’t do anything about? If it was your friend who had this challenge, what would you suggest they do?

I realize I am simplifying the situation. I acknowledge that heat intolerance is a big issue for many with MS. But maybe there are some solutions you could try. They may not solve the challenge of heat intolerance 100% – but they may help to a degree.

For more inspiration on mindset and exercise read here.

Research on stress and MS

Research actually supports that we should support positive coping strategies. A Polish study showed that the quality of life among MSers is negatively affected by stress. Coping strategies such as acceptance, emotional support, positive reframing, humor, etc. had a positive effect on the quality of life. Take a closer look at the results here.

What works for you?

Whether it’s humor, planning, sense of community, art, crafting, exercise, good sleeping habits, healthy eating, writing diary, meditation, or something completely different that relieves stress for you – I can not say.

However, I do know that music can speak to many people. Music can be a great tool to reflect and help us process our emotions. Don’t get me wrong – the music alone is not a magic wand, but it may be a part of your tools to live well with MS.

I know a coach who makes use of the music in the shape of a fight song for the clients. These songs can be used to get through difficult times and obstacles in life. They can remind the client of the spirit within them and give them the courage and confidence to get through a given situation. If you search online, you will find many examples of fight songs.

What do you think? Could a fight help MS?

  • Do you have a song that speaks specifically to you?
  • A song that supports you when you’re having a hard time?
  • Maybe music is not part of your coping strategies?
  • But do you really know YOUR coping strategies?
  • Do you know what to do more of? And what to do less of?
  • Hurry up and find out!

You can read further advice on stress and anxiety via MS society UK 

This systematic review and meta-analysis looks at music interventions and health-related Quality of Life.

music sheets

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