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15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Multiple Sclerosis

15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Multiple Sclerosis

Has someone important to you been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS)?  This disease can be hard for patients — as well as their family and friends — to live with.  Here are some important things to remember if you love someone with this disease.

1. They Value Their Independence

Many MS patients, as the diseases progresses, can have problems with muscle control and mobility — and everyday tasks like preparing a meal, walking or going to the bathroom can become a challenge.  But they want to maintain their independence and do for themselves for as long as they possibly can.  It is an important part of their dignity.

2. They Live in Hope

MS is a progressive disease and there is no cure for it. However, they do have hope that this might change.  And research is underway around the world to help find eventually find a cure for this difficult disease. And in the meantime, new MS treatments are offering the hope for a better quality of life.

3. They Want to be Acknowledged

As the MS advances, many patients will often become confined to a wheelchair and may have difficulty speaking and some short term memory loss. Oftentimes, other people will feel uncomfortable about this and talk to relatives or doctors as though the patient is not there. People with MS want to be acknowledged and spoken to directly: their IQ is not affected by this disease and they want to be able to communicate just like everyone else.

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4. They are Not Helpless

People with MS can be empowered to take control of managing their disease through many lifestyle choices.  Diet, for instance, can play an important role in MS management and although it cannot cure the disease, it can help with the health of the immune system and the body in general.

5. They are Not Alone

Over 2.5 million people all around the world live with multiple sclerosis every day.  There are 400,000 in the United States alone and around 200 new people are diagnosed with this disease each week.  Because of its prevalence, there are MS support groups all over the country and many people find that joining a support group and getting connected with other who also struggle with this disease is emotionally helpful.

6. They Have Choices

Many patients with MS are choosing the route of complementary and alternative medicines to help manage with condition. Some will do this along with traditional treatments and some in place of them.  These alternatives include herbal therapy, acupuncture and massage therapy, among others.

7. They Do Not All Have the Same Signs and Symptoms

Multiple sclerosis is not a “one size fits all” disease!  It is different for each person who experiences it. There are four types of multiple sclerosis and each one can be mild, moderate or severe.  Not all people with MS will wind up with walkers or wheelchairs.  Not all will have vision or memory problems, either.

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8. They Do Not Have a Fatal Disease

Multiple sclerosis is not considered to be a fatal disease. The life expectancy of someone with MS is only 5-10 years less than that of the general population and with new treatments and better understanding of the disease, even that gap is beginning to close. It is important to note, however, that some complications from MS, like pneumonia, can become life-threatening.

9. They have the Same Interests as Everyone Else

People with MS enjoying going out to eat with friends, visiting a park or museum or going to a place of worship — in short, they have much the same interests as everyone else!  While it can take more planning and preparation to do these things with MS, it is still possible and still an enjoyable experience to get out and live life as fully as possible.

10. They Like to Be Active

Don’t assume that because someone has to use a walker or a wheelchair that they have to “rest” or “take it easy” all the time.  Even as the disease progresses, exercise within reason is considered to be beneficial for MS patients and activity in general can help to keep to boost the immune system and help with symptoms like depression.

11. They Can Struggle with Depression

Because multiple sclerosis can lead to a loss of independence as the diseases progresses and because this disease has no cure, people with MS can struggle with feelings of depression.  It is important to talk to the doctor about these feelings and seek therapy and/or medications — but loving support from family and friends can really help them, too.

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12. They Can Have Vision Problems, Too

Multiple sclerosis affects nerves throughout the body — including the optic nerve which controls vision.  As a result of this, people with MS can struggle with vision at times and have symptoms like blurred or double vision, difficulty controlling the movements of their eyes or even blindness (this is usually in just one eye and usually temporary).

13. They Might have Periods of Remission

Depending upon the type of MS a person has, they can have periods of remission, where the signs and symptoms of the disease seem to get better. This does not mean that they are cured of the disease, however, and these times should be enjoyed as a sort of reprieve when it is possible to get out and do more.  Keep in mind, though, that sooner or later, the MS symptoms will return.

14. They are Sexual Beings like Everyone Else

Even in an age of rights for the disabled, many people are uncomfortable with the idea that people with disabilities have sexual thoughts and feelings — and are capable of sexual expression.  While sex with MS can be more challenging, it is still possible for a couple to have a intimate and satisfying sex life even with this disease.  Good communication between the sexual partners is very important — just as it is in any relationship!

15. They Can Still Have Children

Women who get MS are often diagnosed in their 20’s or 30’s — when they are still of childbearing age.  And many women with this disease go on to have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy children — though often they must deliver by Caesarian section (C-section).  Don’t assume that because a young woman has MS that she is infertile and not interested in having children.

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So if someone you love has MS, keep these things in mind.  Because as with many chronic diseases, the loving support of family and friends is vital for emotional health and a good quality of life.

Featured photo credit: IM Free via depositphotos.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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