Welcome to Understanding your MS, a series where people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) can learn more about their condition and the journey.
MS-certified Nurse Practitioner, Megan Weigel here.
This video is brought to you by Biogen, and I am compensated for my time. Your healthcare team is your best resource for information regarding your healthcare and treatment.
In this video we’ll briefly explore some aspects of wellness. You can also learn more about wellness by exploring AboveMS.com.
Keep in mind, the topics discussed here regarding overall wellness are not intended to treat your MS.
What is wellness?
It’s a combination of things you can do that may impact your overall health. According to the World Health Organization, wellness is about more than whether you have a disease or not—it’s about your complete physical, mental, and social well-being. So this means that even if you have MS, you can still work towards achieving wellness.
Working to achieve and maintain wellness is an active and ongoing process. It’s based on your personal comfort level and partnering with your healthcare team.
Lifestyle choices that may contribute to your overall wellness include:
You may also consider making lifestyle modifications. For example, if you smoke, talk to your healthcare team about quitting.
Although there are no diets specifically designed for people with MS, you can still make mindful food choices. Whether or not you have MS, following a balanced diet can contribute to your wellness and is one part of an overall wellness plan.
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Whole grains offer fiber and other nutrients. They can include certain breads and pastas, brown rice, and oatmeal. And you can find lean protein in eggs, fish, meats, poultry, beans, and legumes.
Ask your healthcare team if there are any supplements you should be taking regularly.
And it’s also important to stay well hydrated.
Although everyone’s situation is different, staying active is important. Physical activity may help with fatigue, strength, and coordination.
Physical activity can become a part of your routine, and you can make it fun by finding an active hobby. Perhaps you’d enjoy gardening, painting, photography, yoga, meditation, or swimming. Doing simple exercises with a spouse or friend as your exercise partner is another example. If you’re in a wheelchair, you might consider using a standing frame to help stay physically active.
In addition, getting the right amount of quality sleep is important to overall health, and may impact fatigue and cognitive function.
Play an active role in your care. Talk with your healthcare team before making any changes to your lifestyle. Together, you can develop daily routines based on your comfort and ability levels. In addition, you may want to consult with a physical and/or occupational therapist.
As well as physical activity, it’s important to engage in activities that are mentally stimulating.
Ask your healthcare team for ways to challenge yourself mentally—like reading books or magazines. You can also play cognitive games such as crosswords or Sudoku (which you can find at AboveMS.com).
There are also things you can do to help keep your mind organized.
For example, taking notes wherever you can may help you remember things. You can use your phone, notebook, or voice-activated device to save reminders.
Planning ahead as much as possible can also help. And keeping your personal space organized and consistent may prevent you from getting distracted by unnecessary clutter and change.
If you think you’re experiencing changes in your cognitive abilities, it’s important to talk with your healthcare team and get screened as soon as possible.
Living with MS can sometimes feel overwhelming, but there are ways to help you feel at ease and strive toward emotional wellness.
Consider taking time for yourself every day to evaluate how you feel, whether it’s during breakfast or right before bed.
A positive outlook can help you cope. Think of what makes you happy. Is it a loved one? A memory? A favorite food? Make a list of all the positive things in your life.
Also, be open and communicate your needs to your support partner (if you have one). For emotional and day-to-day support, your spouse, children, neighbor, or good friends may be able to help. For additional support, try turning to your MS community and local support groups.
You may also consider talking with a therapist. If you believe that you are feeling depressed or anxious all the time, don’t be afraid to be open and honest with a therapist, as he or she may be able to help you navigate through your emotions and develop good ways to process how you’re feeling. A therapist or counselor would be part of your larger healthcare team. Depending on your specific needs, your team might also include a neurologist, psychologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, nutritionist, nurses, and more.
Lastly, stay involved and active in your overall wellness and health. If you don’t currently have a wellness plan but want to try to adopt one, keep in mind the various people who may help you, such as your personal support team (caregivers, loved ones, etc). And of course, your healthcare team. By working closely with your healthcare team members, you’ll have a better chance of developing a wellness plan that’s right for you.
Remember, a well-rounded plan can focus on your physical, mental, and emotional health.
The Above MS™ program offers a lot of great benefits, like:
Remember, your healthcare provider is your best resource.
If you’ve found this video informative, be sure to explore AboveMS.com for more tips and information about living with MS.