Staying Active With MS: How to Keep Moving Physically, Socially, and Productively
When I reflect on my 35+ years with multiple sclerosis (MS), I sometimes ask myself why I continue to put effort into exercising, meditating, eating well, and working hard to have a fulfilling life. After all, I am on Social Security, so I have enough money to survive. It would be much easier to stay in bed and wait for the end in relative comfort.
However, I know that if I stop moving, my body will deteriorate at a faster pace. If I don't socialize and interact with others, I will become lonely and my mental faculties will decline. If I stop caring about myself, I will neglect my appearance and hygiene. If I stop caring about others, I will feel purposeless and lacking a reason to live.
Although nobody depends on me, I find it essential to feel useful and enjoy life. In order to have a life worth living, I believe it is important to stay active in at least three ways: Movement, accomplishing things, and social contact.
When it comes to movement, many people associate multiple sclerosis with disability. It becomes more difficult to move as our muscles weaken, and we may experience tremors, weakness, and stiffness. However, I have learned from physical therapists that any kind of movement is beneficial. Even if I can only lift my foot a few inches off the bed, it is better than not moving it at all. It is important to use the parts of my body that are still strong, and at the same time, not give up on weaker parts. Minimal function is better than none, and it can improve with exercise. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help our bodies function better.
Accomplishing things is also important. While we may not be able to do everything we used to, it is worthwhile to contribute what we can. And it is not just about our personal tasks, but also about making a contribution to the world. I feel fortunate to be able to write, which does not require much physical strength. However, I may have to explore other options or adjust my methods in the future, and that will be a challenge. I encourage everyone to ask themselves what makes them feel good about themselves, and to find ways to do those things more often.
Lastly, social contact plays a crucial role in a fulfilling life. It can be challenging for some people, especially those with MS, but it is worth overcoming the barriers. Even small steps like listening or asking a question can make a difference. There are various ways to stay socially active, such as attending local activities, joining groups with shared interests, or participating in faith practices.
While there are other ways to stay active, physical, social, and creative activities hold the most importance for me. It is essential to make the most of our time in this beautiful world until it is truly time to give up. To connect with others living with multiple sclerosis, consider joining our MS Facebook Support Group.