News

Social connections and wellbeing

14th July 2021

Strong ties with our family and friends provide us with feelings of happiness, security and support. Nurturing these relationships can give us a greater sense of purpose and allow us to feel stronger in our self and self-worth.

Our Nursing team say, ‘MS does not exist in a bubble’. Those with MS know that, while this condition affects them in ways many people cannot understand, it is not only the person with the disease whose life is touched. Their loved ones are also affected, and, frequently, that brings about changes to social dynamics or the way family members relate to and interact with one another.

But not all change will be negative. While there may well be challenges for people affected by MS, there are also times when MS might be a blessing in disguise, binding families and friendships together with a bond that cannot be broken.

Communication

Sometimes, loved ones may attempt to help you when that really isn’t what you need at the time. Or there may be other times when your loved ones may not know what you need, and they might pull away when you really need support. This is where open and honest communication is so important.

Children of all ages will also pick up that something is wrong. It is best to be open with children to make sure they hear it from you first. Your actions, more than your words, will tell a story that your children can believe. Get out and be as active as you can, participate as much as you can and take care of yourself as only you can.

Get out there!

Sharing good times with others and being supported in the not-so-good times is what good friendships are about. There is a saying that ‘friends are good medicine’. Which means having several close friends is very good for our mental health and wellbeing. Here are some ideas to be more socially active:

  • Make a list of all friends and family members who are supportive and positive.
  • Create a separate list of people who you need to stay in touch with regularly, such as parents, a close friend, your child who lives far away or an aging relative who lives alone. Make a commitment to call, email or get together with them on a regular basis. In cases of long-distance use social media to keep in touch.
  • Reach out and make a least one emotional connection each day.
  • Share what is on your mind honestly and talk about your concerns openly. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Ask people what they think about your situation and show them you value their opinion.
  • Listen and respond. Ask about someone else’s day. Follow up on previous conversations. Offer help or advice if asked. Listening to other people’s concerns can often shed light on your own challenges.
  • Ask your friends to introduce you to other friendship circles so you can meet new people and try new activities.
  • Join an MS Peer Support group or another local community group. These groups are a great opportunity to meet new people, share common interests and hear about situations similar to yours.

Ask for help

If you are feeling lonely or isolated from family and friends, there are professionals you can reach out to for advice and support.

  • Speak to an MS Nurse, GP or Social Worker to discuss family dynamics, changes in your normal routine and any other feelings you may have.
  • Your GP, MS Nurse, Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist can give you strategies to manage any symptoms that may impact your ability to get out and participate in activities.
  • Always keep your doctor up to date on how you feel, physically and mentally. They may find that a combination of counselling and prescription medication may be just what you need.
Back to News stories
Social connections and wellbeing