By Matt Cavallo
Many of us living with Multiple Sclerosis welcome the change of seasons. Gone are the dog days of summer and the pseudo-exacerbations (brief flare-up) associated with heat. While the heat is no longer a factor, the change of seasons can present other challenges to those of us living with MS. In a speech to the University of Lille (7 December 1854), Louis Pasteur said one of my favorite quotes, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” The following self-management techniques will help you prepare for the challenges that the change of season present for those of us living with MS:
Self-Management Tips for Change of Season Issues
1. Eating healthy: Fall and Winter are associated with a lot of festive eating. Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner and all the holiday parties, provide lots of yummy food and treats but also provide many opportunities for us to overeat. Some ways to keep your diet in check:
- Eat three meals a day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast may lead to overeating later.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals to keep your energy up.
- Avoid large portions and desserts that can increase fatigue.
- Keep a food diary and write down everything you are eating to stay on track and keep you accountable for healthy choices.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can be confused with hunger.
2. Preventing falls: Rain and snow in fall and winter can lead to an increased risk of falls.
- Safeguard your entrance and exits with mats to absorb moisture.
- Wear appropriate shoes with proper treads to provide more grip on slippery floors and sidewalks.
- Stock up on the supplies you need to weather any storm that hits, so that you don’t have to run out during a storm.
3. Exercise: Cooler months can mean less opportunities for outdoor activities, leaving some less active.
- Find ways to fit in exercise despite the weather.
- Work out indoors at a local gym or in your own living room with exercise DVDs.
- Many local gyms, like the YMCA, have indoor pools. Aquatic exercise is good for those with limited mobility.
- You can also use swimming to raise awareness for MS through the MSAA’s Swim for MS program.
- Mall walking is a good way to get in exercise on a rainy day.
- The key is to keep moving!
4. Managing stress: Fall and winter months can increase stress from increased holiday parties, financial expenses and family obligations.
- Don’t overextend yourself.
- Set a realistic plan for what you can commit to and stick to it.
- Take time for yourself to relax and decompress.
- Exercise and eating healthy will play a vital role in helping to keep your stress levels at a minimum.
Each season can bring a unique set of challenges for persons with disabilities, but preparation and knowledge of self-management skills will help you anticipate and overcome those challenges to enjoy the best of what the season has to offer.
*Matt Cavallo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005. Matt is an MS blogger, author, patient advocate, and motivational speaker. Matt also has his Master’s degree in Public Health Administration. Matt is the proud father of his two sons, loving husband to his wife, Jocelyn, and best friend to his dog, Teddy. Originally from the Boston suburbs, Matt currently resides in Arizona with his family. To learn more about Matt, please visit him at : http://mattcavallo.com/blog