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Woman with MS smiling and talking

Considering the big impact of MS on my life, it sounds almost implausible what I am about to say. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, it seems as if multiple sclerosis (MS) is just secondary, while the outbreak is at centre of everything I think about. When I experience any MS symptoms, my mind says, “MS? What MS? Oh, you mean my MS?”

If my MS comes up in conversation with family and friends, it is in relation to COVID-19. It is about the almost obsessive compulsive need to wash hands and clean every touched object with antibacterial wipes. The absence of my usual routine was another reminder of the all-encompassing impact of COVID-19. For example, I only left the house once during lockdown,aside from taking out the bins and talking with neighbors at a safe distance.

But, as the title of this post suggests, I have ‘COVID-19-free’ days where I don’t watch the news, read papers or talk about COVID-19. That is not an easy task, but I find it necessary to maintain a mental and emotional balance that could otherwise tip over within the space of five minutes. 

Of course, each of us has their own way of finding a level-headed approach on how to look after our emotional wellbeing. Perhaps you have found a routine among the many ‘new normals’ and in that case, fair play to you! Should your country go into lockdown again, you will know what to expect and how to adapt once more.

How to stay positive?

Trying to live one or two COVID-19-free days a week doesn’t mean ignoring the reality that every country in the world currently faces. However, the faster you accept it as an extraordinary event that has turned into a ‘new normal’, the better you can apply objective, fact-based ways of positively working around it. 

Of course, COVID-19 is a new challenge altogether and being scared and not seeing a way out is a natural response. You may be experiencing MS symptoms, such as neurodegeneration, so how can you possibly add another layer of uncertainty? As if your MS is not unpredictable enough already! Trying to have a COVID-19-free day might not happen immediately, but there are ways to minimize the subject to a thing you can push to the back of your mind, as you need to.

Every negative has a positive

View this as a time where you are rediscovering old topics to talk about with family or friends or try out those stay-at-home hobbies you always wanted to start, or used to love but never had the time for. Do things that completely take your mind off COVID-19, and do not be afraid of being a bit selfish and having some guilty pleasures. Try to keep some routine, without falling back into old habits. This is a time where looking after yourself and your loved ones is the true priority. 

Ease yourself into a manageable daily routine as life moves towards going back to normal but do so slowly and carefully. Create a plan that will help you stay on top of things to avoid running around like a headless chicken. Do not forget, there might still be asymptomatic people carrying the virus while looking quite dandy and fit.

Take a look at more tips on getting back to the ‘new normal’ and staying mentally healthy during COVID.

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