Stress Management

 

Stress Management

Some people who have MS believe that stressful life events were the catalyst for their diagnosis. Many people with MS report that environmental stresses have triggered exacerbations. Almost everyone who has MS believes that having an exacerbation increases the amount of stress they experience. This issue of InforMS will explore what we know about the impact of stress on the disease course in multiple sclerosis, what we know about the impact of stress on general health, and how the two might overlap.

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Stress Management Strategies

“In stressful times, we typically breathe too rapidly. This leads to a buildup of oxygen in the bloodstream and a corresponding decrease in the relative amount of carbon dioxide, which in turn upsets the ideal acid-alkaline balance— the pH level—of the blood. This condition, known as respiratory alkalosis, can result in muscle twitching, nausea, irritability, lightheadedness, confusion, and anxiety. In contrast, slowing the breath raises the carbon dioxide level in the blood, which nudges the pH level back to a less alkaline state. As the blood’s pH changes, the parasympathetic nervous system calms us in a variety of ways, including telling the vagus nerve to secrete acetylcholine, a substance that lowers the heart rate. “  — Richard Rosen, yoga instructor

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