People live with MS, but is it possible to live well with MS? Many people do. They learn ways to address issues central to their overall well-being.
“Wellness is not dependent on not having a disease—you can have a health issue and still live well. You can learn strategies to live optimally with the disease,” said Stephanie Fisher, MA, executive director of the Marilyn Hilton MS Achievement Center at UCLA, a joint program of the UCLA Department of Neurology and the Southern California Chapter of the Society.
The Hilton Center recently shared its experiences as a leader in the wellness field. Here are some of what they view as core components of wellness.
- Exercise. Physical activity blunts the impact of MS by improving the body’s overall condition—increasing strength, range of motion and cardiovascular health. “We know exercise is beneficial, within one’s personal limits,” said Denise Nowack, RD, executive vice president, Programs and Services, Southern California Chapter. Working with a health-care professional will help determine what and how much exercise works for you—whether it is tai chi, yoga, aquatic exercises, bicycling, or something else.
- Eating well. “Good nutrition is important, as is managing weight, since extra weight adds to fatigue,” Nowack added. There are lots of resources on eating healthily (and deliciously). Visit nationalMSsociety.org and search for “nutrition” to find recipes, meal planning and information on nutrients important to people with MS.
- Knowledge. A current and accurate understanding of MS, its symptoms and treatments can help people navigate medical decisions and get more from their partnerships with health-care professionals. However, there’s lots of misinformation both online and off. Call us or visit nationalMSsociety.org to start finding up-to-date and helpful resources.
- Emotional and spiritual resources. The grief and sense of loss that a diagnosis brings up are powerful factors. Paying attention to one’s inner self can help people learn “to recognize the things that drain them emotionally and how they can minimize them,” Nowack said. “People can develop practices to carry them through their lifetime.”
For more information on all the aspects of living well with MS, visit nationalMSsociety.org/healthyliving or call us for information about wellness-focused programs, classes, support groups and more for people with MS in this area.