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Tips for Maintaining Your Quality of Life with Multiple Sclerosis
Please note, this is a guest post! Credit is given at the bottom of the article.
Although there is no cure, a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is not a death sentence. Many people with the condition continue to live long and happy lives. Of course, debilitating fatigue or chronic pain can make it very difficult to enjoy the quality of life you used to know. Luckily, taking a few steps to optimize your health can help you regain some control over how you feel.
Practice Healthy Habits
Exercise, healthy eating, and reducing stress can all help reduce MS symptoms and lower your chances of acquiring other health conditions like heart disease and cancer. Exercise can be challenging if you have MS, but it can help reduce your pain and improve your mood. Try aerobics and stretching exercises like yoga and tai chi. If you’re bound to a wheelchair, try out some of these adaptive exercises from 101 Mobility.
There is no special diet for people with MS, but making healthy food choices is a great way to support your general health. Maximizing your nutrient intake and cutting out high-fat foods can reduce MS flare-ups. Try eliminating certain foods from your diet, like sugar or wheat, to see if your body feels better. Finally, try to cut back on smoking since it can make the disease progress more quickly.
Make Your Home MS-Friendly
Making alterations to your home will help you maintain your independence and perform your daily activities much more comfortably. Your goal here is to maximize efficiency and minimize risk. Some of the easiest changes include installing grab bars in your bathroom and bedroom, getting a raised toilet seat, removing tripping hazards from the floor, and replacing door knobs with levers. If you have a wheelchair and a slightly higher budget, it can be helpful to install a roll-in shower, lowered counters with open space underneath, and special door hinges that allow doors to open wider.
While you’re reorganizing your home, design a quiet meditation space where you can relax in comfort. One study found that mindfulness meditation may help people with MS cope with fatigue and depression. Plus, having a stress-free area of your home can act as a wonderful respite from a difficult day.
Begin Treatment Immediately
Following the MS treatment recommendations of your doctor is important. Ask them about medications that can slow the progression of MS and reduce the frequency of your attacks. Even if you’re worried about medication side effects, starting treatment as soon as possible can help you avoid debilitating disability by slowing the progression of the disease and improving your mental and physical functioning. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a great resource for learning about your treatment options and staying up to date on new research.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
MS is often accompanied by issues with anxiety and depression. This is because the disease causes damage to the areas of the brain involved in mood regulation but may also be caused by feelings of hopelessness and worry about its progression. If you’re experiencing emotional issues, talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep problems, thyroid disorders, medication side effects, or a vitamin B12 deficiency. These issues tend to have an effect on our mental well-being and can be addressed quite easily. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for depression, while acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) provides relief for many people experiencing MS-related anxiety. Exercise and relaxation activities may help with feelings of depression or anxiety as well.
Know Where to Go for Support
Many people also find comfort in social support, so try to maintain a connection with your friends and family. Join a group where you can engage in a fun hobby with others, such as board games or team sports. You can also find support organizations online where you can talk to people about everything from treatment advice to coping strategies. Many cities hold regular meetings for MS patients, so be sure to search for local groups in your area.
Living with MS means facing new challenges and learning how to overcome them every day. When things are bad, try to acknowledge that your negative feelings are temporary. You’re bound to face ups and downs, so it’s okay to feel sad or angry. Most importantly, try to make the most out of your good days instead of worrying about when your symptoms might come back. If you’re having trouble finding happiness, it can be helpful to practice gratitude for the things and people in your life that you love.
About the author of the article:
Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns.
In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book.