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7 Ways to Bloom Where You’re Planted

By Gay Falkowski
Spring is here. As landscapes turn green again, we can’t help but take a hint from Mother Nature: It’s time to grow! For some people with MS, it’s overwhelming to think of doing anything new for the sake of personal growth. But you don’t have to run a marathon or climb a mountain in order to grow. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the house. Have you ever seen plants pop through cracks in sidewalks or concrete walls? They find a way to thrive in what seems like impossible conditions. You can, too. Bloom where you’re planted. Here are seven low-cost activities you can do at home to get you growing:

1) Release your inner artist. You don’t have to be a Picasso to take up the latest art craze — coloring books for adults. You can find a wide variety on Amazon.com. Therapists say coloring has a destressing effect because when we focus on a particular activity, we focus on it and not on our worries. It also brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a period in which we had a lot less stress. Feel free to color outside the lines!

2) Learn about yourself by journaling. If the idea of writing about your innermost thoughts is a turn-off, try this: Set a timer for 10 minutes and write anything that comes to you. The goal is to be honest and vulnerable, says Sandy Grason, author of Journalution. Write about the most difficult thing you can think of. After you’re done, rip it up. Allowing yourself to write about the one thing you definitely don’t want to write about will take you right to the heart of what you need to work out on the blank page. Pretty soon, you’ll want to keep your writings.

3) Get a higher education from home — for free. You can say you were a student at Harvard University or other prestigious universities if you log into one of the free online courses available through edx.org. You won’t get a degree, but then again, you don’t have to take tests, either. The idea is to pick a subject you’ve always wanted to know more about, and then tune in to hear some of the best and brightest educators talk about it.

4) Become the next Siskel or Ebert. Low-cost or even free movie streaming lets you enjoy top movies and documentaries in the comfort of your own home. What kind of movies do you prefer? Have a movie marathon watching films of a particular genre. If you’re feeling social, reach out to fellow movie buffs online to rate, debate, and analyze your favorites. There are a variety of movie boards where you can chime in with your own review. Getting others’ opinions is a great way to gain new perspectives.

5) Create a family cookbook. Gather your favorite and/or traditional holiday recipes and then reach out to other family members and ask for their favorites. If you know of fun stories associated with particular foods or memorable meals, include those as well. It’s a great excuse to connect with relatives you haven’t spoken with in a while, and you never know what you’ll learn about the family! Plus, the cookbooks make nice, personalized holiday gifts.

6) Dance! What better way to improve new skills than by combining music and movement? If balance and weakness are an issue, Chair Dancing Fitness guides you through the moves while you’re seated. An alternative to high-impact aerobics and gym workouts, Chair Dancing has been developed to improve muscle tone, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. Learn more at www.chairdancing.com. As always, be sure to check with your physician before starting any exercise program.

7) Play with your new rescue pet. If you’re not up to going to the local animal shelter, trust a good friend or family member to pick out your new furry friend. The physical and emotional benefits of interacting with pets are well established. Not to mention the satisfaction you’ll have knowing you’ve given a loving home to an animal in need. Make sure you can afford the cost of a pet and can provide the care it needs before opening your heart and home.