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Tips for Managing MS During a Pandemic

By Daryl H. Bryant (794 words)
Posted in Living with MS on April 13, 2020

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Tips for Managing MS During a Pandemic

Living with multiple sclerosis can be a challenge even in the best of circumstances. However, when a national health crisis, such as coronavirus COVID-19, arises, managing MS can become even more challenging. Those with compromised immune systems are often at a higher risk, yet must weigh that risk against the resources they need to stay well. 

Sheltering-in-place doesn’t mean you have to hide under the covers until this situation resolves. Here are nine tips to help you manage MS and take control of your health as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic. 

Be Informed, Not Inundated

It’s easy to get caught up in the 24/7 news cycle, so set specific times throughout the day to check for coronavirus updates. Limiting the amount of time you spend reading about it or watching the news will help you avoid the panic that comes with sensationalized reports amidst this global pandemic.

Talk to Your Doctor

Schedule a telehealth appointment with your doctor to discuss managing your health during the COVID-19 outbreak. Make sure you have refills on all necessary prescriptions and consider what additional steps you need to take to protect yourself. If you have regular OT or PT, you may also need to make alternate plans for those appointments - your doctor may choose to send a therapist to your home, or may suggest in-home exercises you can do yourself. 

Update Medical Information 

Many circumstances may require you to visit a doctor or hospital.  Create a one-stop information sheet with contact information for your doctor, as well as any prescriptions and supplements you are taking, any allergies you may have, and other pertinent health info. The more your medical team knows, the better they’ll be able to care for you if the need arises.

Create a Routine

In times of uncertainty, it’s easy to let chaos rule the day. Take charge and create a routine for your “new normal.”  Since you’ll be spending the majority of your time at home, we suggest creating a block schedule that is flexible while giving you control over each aspect of your day. You can create this in a spreadsheet, or write down your routine on a piece of paper. Remember to add in appointments, medication times, and other vital information. 

Be Active 

Staying at home doesn’t mean you have to sit around all day. Staying active is one of the best things you can do for your immune system and overall health. Get creative with these suggestions: 

  • Instead of walking through your neighborhood, walk around your home. Use a pedometer or your phone’s health features to log your steps. 
  • Create a YouTube playlist of exercise videos to take advantage of daily
  • Get social: Host a group workout using a Zoom conference or join a live workout a gym may be hosting

Nourish Yourself 

A proper diet is vital to managing your health. Create a meal plan and incorporate lots of anti-inflammatory meals and foods. Be consistent with supplements, and ensure you’re getting enough Vitamin D if you’re unable to go outside. Keep healthy snacks on hand and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. 

Learn Something New

Brain fog and neurological challenges are common with MS, and stress can exacerbate these symptoms. This is why it’s important to keep your brain active and engaged while navigating a pandemic. 

Many companies are offering free online subscriptions and classes to help people stay active and connected while sheltering in place. Take an online art class, listen to new audiobooks, try out some new recipes, or join a virtual gaming group. Make the most of the plethora of resources available and turn a potentially stressful situation into a positive experience. 

Prioritize Rest

Stress and anxiety can trigger insomnia and interrupt sleep cycles. Stick with a routine to minimize sleep disruption. If you do find yourself awake at night, avoid turning on a computer or picking up your phone, as blue lights can trigger the brain to wake up. 

If you find yourself struggling through an early afternoon slump, take a nap! Research shows that a short nap can have significant health benefits and can even help you sleep better at night. Rather than fighting through the fatigue, give your brain and body a rest so you’ll be refreshed for your evening routine. 

Practice Gratitude 

Attitude is everything! It can be easy to let anxiety and fear creep in during uncertain times. Instead of focusing on the negative, switch the narrative, and look for the good in every day. This is a great time to start a gratitude journal and document the positive things that are happening all around you. 

While we can’t control the unfortunate circumstances happening around the globe today, we can control our response to situations. Choose to be positive and proactive, and remember that things will get better!

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