Roz Kalb , Psychologist
1 Nov 2023 | ~6:28 Engagement Time
Is MS making it harder for you to stay connected with others? Or to participate in social activities when you do get out? Maybe you’re finding that your “comfort zone” has gotten smaller and more confined.
Many aspects of life with MS can make socializing more challenging – fatigue, mobility issues, lack of accessibility, depression, an unpredictable bladder or bowel, and problems with thinking and memory to name just a few. Now is a good time to think about ways to keep your connections going or regain some you may have lost. A “comfort zone” that has gotten too narrow can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. The more isolated you become, the harder it is to reach out.
Connections rely on open communication, which means letting others know what you need, what you enjoy, and what you’re interested in, while also making sure to ask how they are, what’s going on in their lives, and what’s on their minds. In other words, it’s about finding shared interests and activities while also being open about the accommodations you need to help make your shared activities a success.
Communication isn’t easy for most of us. It can take courage and determination to forge new connections or repair old ones. Not every attempt will be successful, but many will surprise you. It’s worth the risk. If you need one guiding principle as you reach out to others, remember to listen so that others will talk, and talk so that others will listen. This means listening with care, attention, and empathy, and talking with the same care, attention, and empathy. And keep in mind that body language and behavior are also forms of communication that impact our connections with others.