Go ahead, you’ve earned it: The benefits of MS self-care

Focusing on yourself has physical and psychological benefits, so why not go for it?

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by Jamie Hughes |

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Well, dear reader, my time in Florida is coming to an end. Mom is home from the hospital after her surgery and a stint in rehab. She has begun outpatient physical therapy, and slowly but surely, she’s getting back to a new kind of normal.

My being here is still very helpful, of course, but I have my own life to get back to. And I’m certainly looking forward to that. This “hiatus” that I’ve been forced to experience hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, but I’ve learned a few things over the last six weeks.

I’ve had quite a bit more time to myself since I’ve been here. Why? Because I’ve been working remotely, thanks to a very understanding and amazing boss. Also, I don’t have a house to manage, and I haven’t been present to raise my sons. (My husband has been shouldering both of those burdens. Bless him.)

Yes, I’ve been lonely. Yes, I’ve missed the daily rhythms, curves, and quirks that come with the life I’ve chosen and crafted for myself. But I’d be lying if I said this much quiet time was all bad. It’s allowed me to actually focus on, well, me for a change. I’ve rediscovered just how essential a little self-care is for a multiple sclerosis (MS) patient.

And it’s not just me. According to a 2012 study by researchers in Iran, quality of life improved after a three-month training program that helped MS patients focus on that goal. “The mean values of quality of life in physical health, pain, fatigue, health conception, changes in health status, sexual activities, as well as overall quality of life scores differed significantly after training,” the researchers wrote. “Moreover, except for cognitive activity, there were significant differences in values of mental health before and after training.”

Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog, right? The researchers went on to conclude, “Designing and applying the self-care programs based on the educational needs of MS patients has a positive effect on physical and psychological aspects of their quality of life.”

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Here’s what I do

According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, we can do many things to help manage our symptoms and lead better lives as a result. I’ve been able to sleep longer, often pulling seven or even eight hours a night. I’ve gone to the gym at least four times a week, and I’ve given myself the freedom to use the “relax and recharge” equipment available to me, including things like an infrared dry pod, a deep tissue massage chair, and even a zero-gravity float bed. Pure bliss, each of them.

Instead of rushing home from the gym to make dinner or tote a kid somewhere, I’ve been able to give myself a break for just a few minutes, which has proven invaluable to my overall mental and physical health.

I’ve also taken the time to care for my face and neck via a nightly skin care routine, and I’m enjoying how well-hydrated I feel. That was another thing I used to skip in favor of a TV show or a few extra minutes to write, but now I see how caring for my body is a better use of limited time.

So whether it’s pampering yourself, giving yourself permission to slow down, splurging on that delightful little thing (or experience) you’ve been wanting, or even arranging your space in a way that’s more pleasing to you, I’ve come to see just how essential self-care is for those of us living with MS.

Life is hard enough — life with MS doubly so — so make sure you take the time to take care of you. Do so without apology, justification, and guilt. Seriously, you’ve earned it by being the rock star warrior god or goddess that you are. And trust me, it’ll pay dividends beyond anything you expect.

Now go out there and do what pleases you!

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


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