What are our personal goals for wellness in the new year? Living life to the fullest with MS requires having a plan for pro-actively taking care of ourselves. It can be easy to fall in a hole of depression. On the other side, it can be easy to overcommit, overindulge, overwhelm, and then trip and fall back into the hole.
Staying out of “the hole” can be a balancing act of self-care and attentiveness, while still living life and having fun.
What are the things you do that help you to succeed the most? What is your ideal routine for wellness? Everyone’s experience with MS is different, so we each have to build our own tailored plan for optimal wellness.
Keys to Success with MS: Movement, Nutrition, Medicine, Treatment.
It’s not about following someone else’s formula, it’s about finding out what works for you.
Movement: at least 2-3x/wk. When you’ve got chronic fatigue and pain, it’s easy to lose momentum and get stuck. Build movement into your routine in whatever way gets you out the door and moving.
- Yoga, tai chi, chi gong, exercise, stretching, movement classes – at the gym or the community center, there are classes that will help you move your body.
- Walking, bicycling, getting out of the house – build this into your daily routine as much as possible.
- Massage/bodywork/physical therapy – even if your are immobile, if helps to have someone more your limbs for you. Massage & manual therapy help move lymph and reduce symptoms of pain and stiffness.
Nutrition: aim for fresh and natural. There are more and more diets out there tailed for treating MS and other auto-immune issues. They all have some essential principles in common.
- Organic, fresh, produce
- 80:20 (veggie/meat): more any anything else, eat your veggies! They really do keep you healthy & strong.
- Keto, paleo, wahls, swank – they all talk about reducing carbs & sugar, and focusing on greens & meat.
- Meal planning –
- Don’t let it make you crazy! A restricted diet can drive anyone bonkers and become more stressful than helpful. It’s wonderful when friends and family can understand and accommodate us, but don’t let it isolate you from social events. It’s amazing to find a restaurant that serves food we can eat – make sure find them and take your friends wit you! Give yourself permission to be human. Make sure you can still go out to eat with a friend and share holidays with family. Surprisingly, I find that a good ole’ bar and gill that serves hamburgers is often one of the easiest places for to a good meal – I just replace the hamburger bun with extra salad, and I replace the french fries with salad too!
Medicine: only the essentials. Our resident Acupuncturist/MS’r says: Lion’s Mane & Magnesium Glycinate are her go-to herbal supplements.
- Herbal supplements (work with naturopath): lions mane, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin B, CBD
- Pharmaceutical drugs (work with neurologist): find our what works for you
- Work within your budget
Treatment: building long-term relationships with your care team. The longer you know your practitioners, the better they can help you. Be empowered to choose a doctor who you like and feel comfortable with. Be empowered to have your own plan for wellness and consider your Dr as an expert consultant whose input you take into consideration – ultimately, all decisions are up to you and what works for you.
- Primary care doctor, neurologist: mainstream practitioners can be essential for accessing the latest medications, treatments and resources.
- Acupuncture, naturopath: alternative practitioners will focus the most on your overall health and wellness.
- Physical therapist, occupational therapist, manual therapy: getting regular bodywork and manual therapy can be just as essential as your pharmaceutical medications in treating the ongoing symptom of MS.
- Mental health care: it is essential to get mental health treatment. MS causes numerous psychological symptoms from mood changes to clinical depression. Being in ongoing mental health care helps us understand that we are not our symptoms.
- Water therapy – available at Peace Health, need a referral from doctor
Are you overwhelmed yet? Too many doctor visits & treatments & medications to keep track of? Don’t worry too much. The goal here is to set some parameters for ideal self-care routine and work to mostly stick to it most of the time. Constant vigilance is exhausting for everyone. So don’t stress yourself out with your self-care routine! Once again and always, find what works for you and do your best.
What are your markers for wellness? Quality time spent with friends? Outside Adventure time? Meals shared with friends & family? Going out to a movie or a show? Showing up for a support group meeting! Participating in a National MS Society Event! Eating a fresh, home-made salad with all the fixings. Time spent working on creative projects. Time spent in meditation and mindfulness practice? When we track markers of wellness as well as occurrence of symptoms, it can help us see past the daily struggle and keep sight of our goals.