Living with Multiple Sclerosis is quite challenging. You can make some lifestyle changes to live a happier and fuller life with MS. Here are some strategies to adopt that will help you improve your quality of life, take charge of MS and make life easier with MS.
- Plan for the Long Term
You have to plan ahead of time because you don’t know what the coming day might bring. You also don’t know the condition you may be in after a few years from now. For example, if you decide to quit the job you are currently doing, what else will you do to make a living?
“Taking steps to prepare for the future can help people feel less stressed and give them a sense of control over their situation,” says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
- Always have Plan B
Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable disease. You may be too fatigued to move to the entrance of your house one day and absolutely fine the other. Performing tasks on schedule becomes a challenge. You should always have a backup plan in case you are unable to perform your tasks as scheduled.
For example, create a list of people who can pick-up your kids from school, buy grocery and do other similar tasks if necessary. If you need to go shopping but it is difficult for you to move, you can shop online. However, internet shopping is not a popular trend in Pakistan.
- Don’t Cram
You don’t know what the coming day will bring. It may be tempting to exhaust yourself with everything possible and do whatever you can do, but such behavior can backfire on you.
Dr. Kalb says, “Balance activity with rest, and listen to your body. Stop before you become exhausted and hit a wall. Otherwise, you may pay for it the next day.”
- Take Care of Your Body
It is important to manage MS. At the same time, it is also important to take care of your physical and mental health. Multiple Sclerosis does not make you immune to any other disease. So, get preventive care, such as getting vaccinations and so on. Stay away from situations and people that cause stress.
- Recognize Stressors and Deal with Them
This is one of the most important things to consider when eliminating everything that make your life with MS difficult. Stress worsens your disease and calls a relapse.
It is important for you to know when stress is building up and what causes it. We have a couple of articles on ways to manage stress. Do read those!
- Know the Symptoms of Depression
You have to be aware of and get knowledge of the symptoms of depression. It is a common phenomenon in MS, so common that many experts believe it is a part of the disease.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Persistent thoughts of death or suicide
Dr. Kalb says, “Depression is treatable…..Living with MS is hard enough without having to deal with it while you’re depressed.”
- Have assistive devices ready!
Always have devices which assist you to move with ease. These devices include canes, a rolling walker, and a wheelchair.
“We all use assistive devices such as smartphones or computers,” Dr. Kalb says. “Using a mobility device isn’t giving in to the disease — it’s a way of taking charge of it and using the tools you need to get the job done.”
- Exercise Regularly
To live a content life with MS, exercise is as important as eating healthy and staying away from stress. Exercise not only helps boost wellness with MS, but it will also help get rid of depression. Make exercise a mandatory habit. We have discussed its importance in a previous post. Don’t forget to check out 10 exercises for MS patients and sitting exercises which they can do at home easily.
In a nutshell, you should incorporate moderate aerobic exercise, stretching and strength training. Aerobic exercises will improve bladder and bowel functions, stretching exercises will benefit to improve flexibility and mobility and relieve stiffness, and strength training, as the name suggests, will help muscles gain strength.
- Create an Efficient Home and Workstation
MS patients have a limited set of energy reservoir. Therefore, it is important to intelligently utilize it. You can organize your surroundings, so that you don’t have to utilize much energy. Get rid of clutter around your workstation.
Talking about this issue, Dr. Kalb suggests, “Think of it as having a certain amount of energy each day… Do you want to use all your energy getting somewhere? Or do you want to conserve that energy as much as possible so that you can enjoy whatever you plan to do once you get there?”
- Relax and Enjoy Life
As difficult as it might seem, you need to relax and enjoy life! Living with MS is not that difficult after all!
Follow these tips to make your life more MS-friendly. If you are already following any of these tips, let us know in the comments below!