Stress Reduction Resources
Miriam Franco, MSW, PsyD, emphasizes the importance of learning quick and effective means of stress reduction for both the care partner and the individual with MS. “Care partners are known to increase their risk of illness because they neglect their own health, don’t take time to exercise, or don’t take breaks. Stress-reduction techniques can easily be practiced at home, waiting in a doctor’s office, or together at the end of the day.” She cites the following strategies and resources:
1) Guided Imagery (GI): This is a fast and effective way to learn both relaxation skills and sensory imaging. These techniques work to reduce stress, anxiety, muscle strain, and fatigue, while also improving sleep. Dr. Franco teaches GI workshops and provides GI training over the phone. She also has a CD/MP3 called “DeStress 101” for relaxation and GI to assist in stress reduction. Another CD/MP3 called “Imagery to Relieve Caregiver Stress” is designed specifically for care partners. (Please note that the CD/MP3 programs are available for purchase.) For more information, readers may visit Dr. Franco’s website at www.imagerywork.com.
To find a trained GI practitioner locally, individuals may search by going to www.imageryinternational.org. This professional site lists certified GI practitioners in the United States and abroad.
MSAA also has an article that provides information on the topic. Titled, “An Introduction to Guided Imagery and Its Potential Benefits for Individuals with MS,” this may be found by going to: mymsaa.org/publications/motivator/winter-08/cover-story.
2) Meditation: Individuals may search for meditation programs on the internet to find local or online workshops. For general information on meditation, please visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) website at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm. Also, Sharon Salzberg, one of the top meditation teachers in the country, has a website with information at www.sharonsalzberg.com.
3) Care Partner Resources: The National Alliance for Caregiving offers many helpful tips and information about caregiving, caregiving stress, and caregiving resources. Please visit www.caregiving.org for more information.
The Well Spouse Association provides support and education for spouses and partners of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The association coordinates a national network of support groups, among other services. Please visit www.wellspouse.com for more information.
Available through MSWorld, the Caregivers Chat Room is an online support group for care partners of individuals with MS. It has a chat and message board for care partners. Please visit www.msworld.org for more information.