By Stacie Prada
Living with MS can lead a person to avoid doing things outside of the routine. Dealing with unpredictability can make a person avoid additional inconveniences and uncertainty.
When my gut reaction is to think something is too much effort, it’s good for me to think about why I’m resisting. There might be a good reason for resistance, but knowing the cause is helpful. If it’s rooted in avoidance or fear, I want to challenge myself to identify what I can do that would offset the what ifs.
What if it’s not worth the effort? What if I go somewhere and my MS symptoms rear up? What if I need something and I don’t have it or I can’t get it?
Living well with MS requires knowing yourself well, respecting and adapting to health needs, and planning ahead. All of these life skills are well-suited to successful and enjoyable outings, and doing new things can add excitement and fulfillment to any life. Day trip outings are perfect for experiencing the joy of travel while keeping the comfort of sleeping at home.
You do you. If you don’t want to go somewhere or do something, don’t! But if you want to do some day trips and are feeling resistant, consider this:
- Perpetual planning allows spontaneity to thrive. Many barriers can be accommodated with creativity, preparation and a willingness to explore alternatives. Over prepare and expect things won’t go perfectly as planned.
- Pack a day bag with personalized essentials to ease stress. The day bag should include anything that will provide comfort and options. I like to include water, snacks, medication, bath tissue, sunscreen, jacket, hat, extra shoes and socks. Think about everything that could be in the car to make it feel like any circumstance or change of plans could be accommodated.
- Set reasonable expectations. Overestimate travel time, and grant yourself permission to change plans.
- Focus the trip around one anchor focus or goal for the day. Create a mental or written list of other things that can be done, if plans change and energy and time allow. Back up plans help diffuse disappointment when things don’t go as intended. Schedule plenty of extra time to do more or less in order to take good care for yourself. Delays and unexpected changes of plans can sometimes lead to wonderful opportunities.
- Allow for lots of bathroom breaks, and never pass a restroom assuming another one will be available later. It’s better to go too often than to not have access to one when it’s needed.
- Make the travel experience as fulfilling as the destination. Go with someone you want to spend time with. Have a good playlist, podcasts or book on tape ready to play. Consider why you’re going. If it’s a trip to a view point, there might be clouds obscuring the view when you get there. Enjoy the journey, the people and doing something out of the routine.
- Look for surprises, and be open to exploring them. Allow for impromptu diversions. Rainbows, herds of elk and skydivers landing have all been rewarding unplanned sights I’ve enjoyed because I looked beyond the road and was willing to turn off the planned drive.
- Use technology, but don’t get overwhelmed. Look online or use apps for recommendations in the area, and consider them. I love using navigation apps for simplifying the directions and letting me know the time and distance to my destination.
- Talk to people. Locals always know the best places, and they love sharing special tips that you might otherwise miss. Just connecting with people can be fulfilling too!
- Interrupting someone is required when pointing out something nearby or of interest that won’t be visible a few moments later.
- There’s always time for ice cream. Literally or figuratively, indulge and enjoy the trip!
*Stacie Prada was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 just shy of 38 years old. Her blog, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing” is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help her adapt, cope and rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/