Dear stress, let’s break up…

pic 1shieldDuring this global viral pandemic in which we are immersed, it is essential to be aware of our stress levels. Those of us with multiple sclerosis find stress can be devastating to our health, making it negatively life-altering. Stress can escalate or even magnify depression and most other MS symptoms, so we must be mindful and avoid its causes. We need to use every possible way to shield ourselves from the detrimental impacts of tension. Here are some key ways to armor ourselves from the aggressive onslaught of the many stresses in life. These tips may seem foolish and simply superfluous but could help reduce the amount of our required downtime, making them crucial to our wellness.

Make sure that you get enough good quality sleep by getting yourself into a sleep routine. It is easier to fall asleep if your body knows that you go to bed at the same time every night. Do not take long naps in the middle of the day as those who take naps for an hour or more have trouble falling asleep at night. Twenty to thirty-minute power naps and no more should be the goal. Studies show that you do not need to fall asleep in the middle of the day, just a brief brain break to reset. These short respites are like rebooting your computer, where a long afternoon slumber creates a vicious cycle. This long nap in the afternoon will cause sleeping difficulties at bedtime, making you tired and need another long rest the next afternoon.

pic 2 be wellThe statement “eat well” is not only about consuming food that is as healthy as possible but also reminds us of portion control. I have noticed that while I have been homebound, I get hungry much more frequently than before this CV-19 began. For the first few weeks that I was in seclusion, I was hungry every few hours, encouraging me to search for smart snacks. Mixed nuts were the ones that I thought would be the least expensive and less amount of work required to prepare. Since we are in a lockdown at home, it is important to eat for our activity level, meaning low physical activity means to consume small portions.

All of us need to keep our bodies moving. When the “stay at home” orders were set, our worlds shrank to the size of our houses, requiring us to get creative. It is imperative not to sit on the couch and watch television eating bonbons until the order is rescinded. We must dig deep within us and gather all of the motivation that we can muster and fight the urge for a sedentary sabbatical. Walk down the street daily, use soup cans for weights, or even do chair Yoga all so that you will not let the temptation of torpidness win your affection. They are not kidding when they say that a body at rest tends to stay at rest as muscle deterioration begins quite rapidly.

pic 3 timeLearn the importance of time management during this nothing is going on life. It is critical in pre-CV-19 life, not to overbook yourself and take time for you and your joy. However, time management now means to fight any urge to do nothing and schedule events to avoid the void of life. Plan time so that you are not getting bored doing any one thing, keeping your mind entertained as well as your family. If you have little kids or grandkids, create game time with them to keep all of you busy and other times have games just for you. Use Zoom, Hangouts, or Facebook to video chat with them so that you can enjoy games or arts and crafts with them. Have a sit-down meal with everyone in the house and enjoy the togetherness as opposed to everyone is elsewhere.

I have had doctors tell me to maintain a stress journal to help track my stress so that I know what to avoid. There have been doctors who recommend that I should have a sleep log so that I keep detailed notes to help find that elusive sound slumber. I say it is imperative to have an all-inclusive MS ledger that tracks the particulars of all aspects of your illness. These days most people have a smartphone, and there are plenty of apps for monitoring one or many issues related to your MS. No matter if you use apps or pen and paper, you can track things like food consumption, exercise, water intake, or stresses all to see how they impact your health. Using this tech software, you can get as specific or broad as you would like making it super simple.

pic 4 destressTo destress has always been a pretty paramount practice to help the health of multiple sclerosis patients. However, now that we are in isolation, we can quickly get on each other’s nerves causing physical difficulties like never before. Remember, there is a symbiotic relationship between family togetherness and alone time. To keep stress levels low, we need to find and nurture both relationships like a five-year-old who just skinned their knee.

Go Zen and learn to let go.

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