Health & Wellness

Resolve To Take The Reins From MS


Do you sometimes feel like MS is running wild through your life? While you may not be able to forcibly halt MS, by grabbing the reins and taking control, you can minimize the damage MS does.
What things affect your MS that are within your control? Research indicates that many of our daily choices make a difference. Some of the modifiable lifestyle factors that are associated with an increase in the risk of having MS, an increase in disease severity, or worsening of certain symptoms include:
            • Smoking
            • Diet and hydration
            • Sleep
            • Stress
            • Exercise
            • Support and self-care
These same lifestyle factors are common themes in people’s New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you have even resolved to quit smoking, exercise more, or eat a healthier diet this year. We know the choices we make in these areas are important, and frequently we may take the opportunity that the New Year presents to try to improve. Yet did you know that only eight percent of New Year’s resolutions succeed? Here’s how can you make your resolution stick:
Making It Work

It’s easy to say, “I will eat healthier this year.” But what is your plan to make it happen? Why is it important to you? How will you measure success? How will you deal with setbacks? The approach you take to making your resolutions makes a big difference. Try treating your resolutions as SMART goals
Define your goal as clearly as possible. Avoid vague language like “I want to do better.” Be specific about what changes your goal requires.
Consider how you will track your progress toward your goal. How will you judge if you’re doing well?
Make sure that your goal is realistic. Account for your limitations and challenges. Plan for what you will do if a relapse or other obstacle threatens to derail your progress.
Consider why the goal is important to you. What does attaining your goal mean for you? This is where the “resolve” comes from in your resolution – make sure that you believe your goal matters.
Break your goal down into steps and implement changes over time. Don’t feel that you must reach your goal all at once, but take it step by step, using a specific timeline to keep you moving forward.
My Resolution:
I need to get more sleep.
Specific: I will make a conscious effort to go to sleep earlier, and at the same time every night, with a goal of getting eight hours a night.
Measurable: I will purchase an inexpensive health-tracking device to monitor my sleep.
Attainable: My schedule may make it difficult to get eight hours a night on days I have to get the kids up for school. I’ll get the children to set their clothes out the night before and help me prepare breakfast, so we can all sleep a bit later. I should be able to come close to my eight-hour goal those days, even if I can’t quite reach it.
Relevant: I read that a lack of sleep can affect my immune system and contribute to inflammation. It’s important to me to manage that, because those issues affect MS itself and symptoms I struggle with – fatigue and pain.
Time-based: At the end of each month, I’ll review how much sleep I’ve been getting nightly, and see how I can adjust things if I’m not meeting my goals.

Using the SMART goals approach, you can create goals that are more likely to succeed. Remember, too, that your goals do not have to be all-or-nothing. Celebrate any improvements you make.

Top Ten Resolutions for Taking Control of MS
1. If you smoke, stop.
2.  Eat more fruits and vegetables, in a variety of colors.
3.  Find exercise you enjoy and use it to get moving on a regular basis.
4.  Identify ways to reduce your stress, and implement stress management techniques.
5.  Evaluate the quality of your sleep, and get checked for sleep disorders, if necessary.
6.  Reduce the salt, saturated fat, and highly processed foods in your diet.
7.  Take care of your preventative health needs, including your annual physical, reproductive health exams, and routine testing.
8. Reach out for support by joining a support group, applying for assistance programs that may benefit you, or just keeping in touch with friends and family.
9.  Stick to your medication schedule, or discuss with your doctor if circumstances regarding your choice of medication have changed.
10. Don’t accept that your health is the best it can be. Educate yourself about available treatments to manage your MS or your symptoms. Keep working toward a healthier you.