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Multiple Sclerosis: How to Handle Family Stress with Composure

When you have multiple sclerosis (MS) and you’re feeling overwhelmed, handling family stress starts with identifying the specific challenges and deciding whether they’re controllable or not (is Aunt Frieda really controllable?).

So, suppose that holiday gatherings at your house are a tradition that you and the extended family really enjoy. You love decorating the house, feeding everyone a delicious meal, and having lots of presents for everyone to open. For you, family time is what the holidays are all about. But this year, you’re exhausted, your symptoms are acting up, and your husband is so busy at work that he’s virtually no help at all.

Even though asking your sister to host the family this year is definitely an option, think about what you’d gain and what you’d lose by turning the event over to her. In other words, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. If having the family at your house gives you pleasure, figure out how to do it with less stress. You can, for example, do the following:

  • Order presents online instead of going to the mall.

  • Order the food from a restaurant (or start cooking now and put stuff in the freezer so you don’t have to cook it all at the last minute).

  • Hire someone to clean the house, or have a family conversation to talk about how to divvy up the chores.

  • Let your husband know that the decorating job is his — even if he has to do it at 3 a.m.

One of the most important strategies for coping with MS (and reducing your stress) is getting comfortable with the idea that doing things differently is okay.

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