Tips for Living With MS

Medically Reviewed by Christopher Melinosky, MD on February 02, 2022
3 min read

When you get an illness like bronchitis or the flu, you know you'll be feeling better and back to normal within a week or so. A long-lasting condition like multiple sclerosis is different. It can affect your life in many ways.

It doesn't have to keep you from being happy, though. A positive attitude can be one of the best ways to handle the changes MS can bring. The condition shouldn't define who you are. You just have an extra challenge in your day-to-day life.

Here are some ways to stay upbeat:

Get help if you need it. If you’re struggling with the disease’s impact on your life, reach out to someone. Sometimes just talking about what’s bothering you can lighten your mental load. It will also help you understand and better manage the many effects of MS.

A mental health professional can listen to what’s troubling you and make a treatment plan to meet your needs. Some therapies help you regain a sense of control over your life. If you’re depressed, medications also can help lift your mood.

Find a support group. One of the best resources is other people who live with MS. Support groups give you a place to learn new ways to handle your condition and a chance to share how you’re feeling with others who understand what it’s like. It always helps to know you’re not alone.

Consider counseling. If there’s a problem you’d rather handle in a one-on-one atmosphere, talk to a counselor or therapist. You’ll feel safer discussing sensitive or private feelings about MS and its impact on your life and relationships.

Keep a diary. Write down how you’re feeling. Not only will this be valuable info to share with your doctor, but it will also help you learn to express yourself.

Take control. MS comes with a lot of uncertainty, so it may help to take charge of the things in your life that you can control. Also keep in mind some of your life-planning issues, such as finances, work, and adapting your home.

Head off fatigue. Take a nap if you need it. But keep it to less than 2 hours. Any longer and you might not be able to fall asleep at night.

Fall asleep easier. Listen to relaxing music before you hit the hay. Cut out screen time half an hour before you go to bed. A bad email could ramp up your stress. Plus, your brain sees blue light from your gadgets as daylight and thinks you need to be awake.

Improve your sleep. Try meditation, deep breathing, or yoga during the day.

Prevent pit stops. Do you wake up at night with a need to go? Skip that glass of water before bed.

Boost your energy: Instead of three big meals a day, eat several smaller ones packed with nutrients.

Avoid complications: Eat low-fat, high-fiber foods to help prevent heart disease and diabetes, which make MS worse.

Be kind to your bladder: Cut back on coffee. It increases your urge to go.

Travel safely: Stay hydrated on vacation, but be careful when it comes to local water and raw foods.

Chill out. Set up a fan at your desk to keep cool while you work. Wear a cooling vest when you go outside in the summer.

Get a move on. Use a motorized scooter to make shopping easier.

Adapt your auto. Install hand controls in your car so you can speed up and apply the brakes without using your feet.

Use the right tool for the job. Is food prep a real chore? Use electric can openers and forks and knives with easy-grip handles.

Walk this way. Wear lightweight shoes with good tread to avoid falling while you're out for a stroll.