I’ve been under a lot of stress these past several months. Unfortunately, stress is my weakness when it comes to staying healthy. I know how important it is to manage stress, but you know how it is. Sometimes life gets complicated and stress is hard to avoid. Instead of getting depressed get relief from stress with exercise!
I always worked in a job that dealt with daily deadlines and stress. I kind of thrived on stress, it got my adrenaline going. Plus, I felt good after accomplishing all my responsibilities. It wasn’t until years later that I realized stress wasn’t doing me any good. Just like multiple sclerosis (MS) flares, it adds up and eventually, your body doesn’t recover like it did in the past.
During the “Great Recession” I was under a tremendous amount of daily chronic stress. Between my husband’s job shutting down and my job. There were layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts every three months, stress took its toll on me. Even though I had stopped the progression of MS through diet. I could feel MS creeping back as my feet and ankles were getting stiffer every day. It was getting harder and harder to walk, which also stressed me out. After a few years of dealing with this chronic stress, I was finally laid off from my job. It was actually a relief and that sick feeling I had in my gut every day was finally gone.
Unfortunately, removing that stress didn’t improve my walking or relieve the stiffness. Researchers say stress doesn’t cause spasticity (stiffness). But if you ask any MS’er I’ll bet they’ll disagree. MS thrives on stress and it rears it’s ugly head whenever there are stressful events happening. Some people are even diagnosed with MS after a bout of chronic stress. Think about when you were first diagnosed. Did it happen around a stressful event?
“Spasticity refers to feelings of stiffness and a wide range of involuntary muscle spasms (sustained muscle contractions or sudden movements). It is one of the more common symptoms of MS.”
– The National MS Society
MS and Stress
MS is not just a neurological disease it’s also a disease caused by emotions. As your stress brings on MS flares, MS also brings on emotional and financial stress. It’s a vicious cycle. Don’t be like me and let MS and stress get the best of you. You are an MS warrior and you here to fight back, calmly of course.
The biggest mistake I made during those years of chronic stress was allowing it to take over. The stress and depression it was too much for my body. This time I was smarter and you can be smarter too. First, you need to learn techniques to reduce your stress. Try sitting in a quiet room, listening to music, or soaking in a warm tub. Even petting your dog or cat can help relieve stress. The most important thing to do is to keep moving. If you’re feeling stressed or depressed don’t just sit there. Keep moving! If possible, go for a walk or ride a stationary bike. Even if you’re in a wheelchair there are exercises you can do.
Learn the different triggers to MS here: What Causes an Autoimmune Disease?
ChairFit with Nancy
You can check out ChairFit with Nancy. She has many exercises on YouTube for people with MS and confined to a wheelchair. Here’s one of her videos below:
For stiffness neurologist like to prescribe drugs like Baclofen or Tizanidine. They’re used as a temporary muscle relaxant. But they come with nasty side effects. Such as fever, nausea, fatigue, chest pain, or burning sensation while urinating. Who wants that? A much better way of dealing with spasticity is by stretching and massaging.
After one of my MS attacks (from years ago), I noticed when I would lift my foot, keeping it straight, my knee turned inward. Or when I would lift my foot keeping my knee straight my foot turned outward. I asked my physical therapist and she told me “don’t collapse your knee” (like I was doing it on purpose). I’ve been through physical therapy, I’ve even taken a yoga class specifically for MS. But, I never saw a huge improvement. Has this ever happened to you?
The MS Gym
That is until I discovered The MS Gym. If you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend you to do so! Trevor Wicken and his wife Misty are the creators of this popular home gym. They specialize in neurologically based exercises for people with MS. The MS Gym opened a closed Facebook group in May of 2017 and already have a following of over 10,000 people within seven months.
They have a genuine passion to help people and are very motivating to listen to. When you join their closed Facebook group you can follow their videos. You’ll also receive extra helpful tips to get your brain and body working together again. If you sign up for their newsletter you’ll get an E-Book for spasticity, balance, drop foot, and/or chair core strength to help manage your symptoms. The MS Gym Free Exercise Guides.
I highly recommend you check them out on YouTube. Or you can sign up for their step-by-step coaching program through their website. Check out their YouTube video below:
Don’t let stress get the best of you, especially when dealing with MS. Even a small amount of stress is overwhelming for those of us with MS. It disrupts your sleep and causes cognitive issues (brain fog). Even when you don’t feel like getting off your sofa, you’ll feel much better after exercising or stretching.