Multiple sclerosis has been compared to an iceberg because 90 percent of the disease activity may be hiding under the surface and not visible to the naked eye. This is especially true with cognition and fatigue. If your energy levels are low or your memory becomes foggy, doing even simple daily chores and activities can be more challenging.
The key is to work smarter, not harder to make every day more manageable. Whether it is at your job or around your living space, maintaining your independence while living with MS has to do with managing your symptoms, having a plan and staying on track. If your memory becomes foggy or your fatigue is too much to bear, then you’ll start to feel overwhelmed. Once you feel overwhelmed, you get trapped in a cycle that is very hard to break. Avoid getting stuck in a negative cycle by following these tips for streamlining your daily activities so you can stay on a positive track without feeling overwhelmed.
Here are five tips to keep you on track without feeling overwhelmed:
- Acknowledge when you are feeling overwhelmed. This is hard, especially the sense of pride that comes with being counted on for completing tasks. When you start to find that things are no longer coming easy to you, then you have to admit it so that you can address the issue.
- Organization is the key. If you are not completing tasks because you are having memory issues, then organize you living or work space so that everything has a place. Designate locations for everything from your mail to your wallet and keys. This will save you time, energy and frustration from searching for lost items.
- Make a list and check it twice. Make to-do lists of everything that you have to do and cross it off as you complete tasks. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and ensure that you are completing everything you set out to do. Also, if you are having a hard time recalling whether or not you completed a task, refer to the list.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself. Complete urgent and most important tasks first and then the others when you are capable. You may not have energy to clean the entire house but could clean a couple of rooms at a time. Always allow yourself to rest when needed and give yourself permission to leave the list unfinished. Be flexible and accept your limits. Allow yourself time to recuperate when you have participated in a draining activity.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The three hardest words are: I need help. Whether you live with someone who can help or need assistance from outside of the house, you’ll find that once you ask, someone will be happy to help you. Because the symptoms of MS are not always visible, asking for help allows you to have a conversation about what you are going through with friends and loved ones.
Getting on track and staying on track is a key to maintaining your independence with MS. Managing your symptoms with complementary strategies – such as keeping a list – will ensure you stay on task. Acknowledging these deficits, staying organized and setting proper expectations will also help you accomplish everyday tasks without wearing yourself out.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do not wait until all else fails. You don’t want to end up overwhelmed or stressed when someone could have helped you avoid it. Following these strategies will keep you on task and streamline your daily activities to help you feel a sense of accomplishment despite the challenges of MS.
**This was written for MS Focus Magazine and originally posted at the following link: http://msfocusmagazine.org/Exclusive-Content/Article?itemid=325. Please visit MS Focus Magazine for this and other great articles about living with MS.**
I am looking forward to reading your book. I too am a huge dog lover, mine is an English Mastiff I rescued 6 years. Two years ago he saved my life when I had problems breathing as I slept. He woke me enough to get help and I spent a week in ICU and a week in the floor. I guess we rescued each other.
I’ve had MS for 32 years and consider myself a warrior. I’ve learned to be my best advocate, and to fight for joy in my life. I once thought, for a long time, that MS meant mighty stupid disease, but now it means MIGHT STRONG and SASSY.
It we all work together we will beat the so called disability that can come with MS and turn it into a different ability. We are stronger together, fighting a sometimes invisible disease. You speaking for us makes us better.
Thank you for following me
Thank you for sharing your story. The Dog Story is my bedside diary of my patient experience and how I got my dog. It isn’t the traditional dog story. I hope all is well with you and your MS journey. Thank you again and enjoy!
I was diagnosed 40 years ago. Optic neuritis, incontinence, ambulatory difficulty and severe cognitive issues were overcome throug( diet ,lifestyle change and identifying toxic physical and emotional environments.
MS has been a blessing in reminding me to be sensitive to s.ymptoms and cleaning up my life. Usually with great results. However, suddenly at 64 I am experiencing symptoms I have not attributed to MS and having challenges. Histamines!!!
I have had a runny nose with series sneezing most of my life. My phycians never connected the 2. Now my mouth and face feel numb and sometimes there is swelling, difficulty breathing and a racing heart coupling with hive like skin around the torso. I also tremor so much it is difficult to read the newspaper or write legibly
These symptoms have me sleeping a lot with long heavy naps. Foggy thinking, disequilibrium and a feeling of fragility. I have been fiercely independent and strong for years.
I am looking into nootropics and making a double extraction of lion’s mane mushrooms. They are being used to treat Parkinson’s and MS. I will continue to track my progress with the Lion’s mane
Your suggestions to studies on histamine and MS will be greatly appreciated