It looks like you are using an older version of Internet Explorer which is not supported. We advise that you update your browser to the latest version of Microsoft Edge, or consider using other browsers such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Woman with MS sitting on sofa holding a coffee cup

We all have rituals, habits and routines that we do daily. They can come from traditions, culture or from ourselves, sometimes when we decide to change something in our lives.

When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I thought it was important to get into new habits. My psychologist gave me a really helpful piece of advice, which I still practice 16 years later, “You have to find your direction back to life and routine, and new habits can help to structure your day in order to create purpose”. This much-needed advice helped me out of the wired and chaotic state I was in. My days became more structured, which allowed me to use time wisely and feel that life was continuing. I could move forward. Sometimes it was small things, like brushing my teeth in the morning or having my coffee. Sometimes it was bigger, going for a daily walk to train my legs or practicing mindfulness and gratitude, because I lost that in the early days of life with MS.

A few months ago, I found myself in the same situation and remembered that advice: “Create a routine”. I did it again and it helped – here are some of my favorites that I wanted to share with the Living Like You community:

Morning break

Generally, I am not a morning person. I tend to do my daily routine in silence. I have breakfast, read the newspaper, down a coffee, then dress and start work. After I’ve been working for a few hours, I have my morning break.

I step away from work, sit down with a nice cup of tea and take 15 minutes without my phone to do nothing. Sometimes I listen to some meditational music and, in the summer time, I’ll sit in the garden. Nothing more. Just calming time. At the end, I take some deep breaths to help me feel energized and boost my productivity. This also helps with my cognitive MS symptoms,  enabling me to stay focused and giving me the power to do my work without fatigue.

Fresh air in the afternoon

I go out, get away from work and have a little walk daily. It helps to air the brain, find new perspectives and do something for your body. It can be just 10 minutes, but this helps to change thinking and perspective. The fresh air also helps me to find new energy, increases my concentration and alleviates cognitive symptoms I experience with my MS.

It’s after work hours!

I have my own business and sometimes it is hard to keep deadlines or be there for clients when it suits them. You could end up working 24/7 - but this doesn’t help, it needs a lot of energy and isn’t healthy. When living with MS, we experience fatigue or pain, so it is not the best thing to work constantly. Try to have a set finishing time when you turn the computer off, take time to care for yourself to let you be present and refreshed the next day. Taking this time to de-stress and wind down helps to keep perspective of different aspects of your life.

Wash away bad things

Sometimes the days are stressful, with negative emotions or experiences. It is not always easy to let go, you hold onto these negative things and take them with you. Taking a hot shower or a bath in the evening helps me to calm down and wash away any negativity from the day. For me, it is a very important part of my routine to find balance and wellbeing, so that I have a good night. It also helps relieve MS symptoms of sleep apnea and helps to reduce pain, depression or anxiety.

Another way I ensure I cleanse my emotions is at the end of the year I write down all the things I want to say goodbye to. Things which make me full of negative emotions are not good to be taken along with me to the new year. I light a little fire to let these things go and open up for new, better things to come.

Dive into another world

One of my favorites is to read a good book. Even if it’s just a few pages every day, it allows me to go into a different world. No matter whether it’s a trashy novel or a thriller, it is your choice to see what helps you most and, of course, what is most interesting and fascinating for you.

Routine and habits help us to take care for our wellbeing, reduce stress and helps us find new ways of managing our lives. As a woman living with MS, I find it helps to have daily structure to have a good, satisfying life.

Outside of my daily routine, I also have weekly or monthly routines – I’ve found friends through things like religious and local events or clubs. They bring people together, out of social isolation and help me to find a more relaxed and structured view of the world.

What are your most important routines or daily habits?

To read more about Birgit’s experience with MS, check out her other articles here.

Curated Tags