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Lifestyle 3 - Choose balance
 

Words Choose Balance Cartoon character balancing on the wordsBe regular: Your body thrives on regularity. In fact, your body works really hard to maintain the internal balance needed to keep you healthy and your brain and other organs working well. The hustle and bustle of modern life and the challenges that MS can bring can disrupt this balance.

Even simple things like eating your meals at regular intervals and going to bed and getting up at the same time can get your body back on track and make life easier for your body and your brain. Make sure that your diet is balanced and maintain a healthy weight and BMI.

Make time every day for physical exercise every day but make sure that you also make time for rest too. Regular activity everyday is better than alternating overdoing it at the gym followed by periods of complete exhaustion.

Balance Stress and Excitement

Stress can disrupt your body’s internal balance  in a way that can have serious consequences for our health. But not all stress is bad: well-managed stress can support you through challenges and changes that MS can bring, making you more resilient and better equipped for whatever life throws at you.

Life would be boring and static without challenge, uncertainty and novelty – what would life be like if we didn’t go on that first date, attend that job interview, sing at karaoke, or make that speech? Stress is a natural part of living but it needs to be managed well. Remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out to others for help and support and be realistic about what you can achieve. When faced with challenge, try to flip the switch in your brain from stress to excitement and don’t wast brain cells sweating the small stuff. And allow your body time to rest and recuperate after stressful events.

All work and no play?

If stress is prolonged or chronic it can trick us into narrowing our focus to the extent that we fail to set aside time for physical exercise or other leisure activities such as hobbies, music, art or reading.

MS can make it difficult for you to do everything and it can be tempting to save all of your energy for work, but balance is hugely important and so you need to reserve some of your energy for play, for fun, for art, for pleasure.

Set boundaries to ensure that you have a good balance between work and the rest of your life. Switch off email notifications and only check emails at pre-determined times. If you can, treat work as a place not a thing and make time for hobbies, socialising and for relaxing.

Try to actively seek balance between work and play.

Balance technology with nature

We have so much technology in our lives – much of it was supposed to give us more leisure time, but many of us have become slaves to our devices. We need to reclaim some of the time lost to technology and use it to connect with nature, with others and even with ourselves.

Try to get that technology impulse under control and spend more time connecting with the moment rather than plugging yourself into the technology.

Make wise choices about how you relax. Recent research suggests that ‘binge’ watching TV for even just 2 hours (which is a long way off a box set) of TV has been linked to poor sleep, elevated stress and depression levels. Now its not clear whether stress or depression lead to the binge watching or the other way around but whatever the case your mood and your brain health will benefit from choices that involve connecting less with the screen and more with nature, exercise, company, stimulation and novelty.

Speaking of company, use social media as a means to connect with people in person not a substitute for social contact. And why save nature for the weekends? Stimulate your senses, suck in that fresh air and blow out those stressful or negative thoughts.

Drink plenty of water, and watch the alcohol

Water

The urge to drink fluids is a natural instinct. We humans can only survive a few days without water, and that is hardly a surprise: our body – including our brain – is comprised mainly of water – about 70%.

It is really important that you give your brain its daily quota of water. Brain cells cannot function efficiently when deprived of water and dehydration can cause serious problems affecting memory, attention and other cognitive functions. Dehydration can also lead to delirium, which is a temporary confusion.

If, like many people with MS, you experience the need to urinate often or suddenly, it is vital that you discuss and implement management and treatment options that balance your need to manage bladder symptoms while ensuring that your body and brain are adequately watered. It takes only 2% dehydration to affect your cognitive function, so it pays to be vigilant.

Alcohol

Some people find that alcohol can help with bladder symptoms. Unfortunately though, alcohol also affects the central nervous system and can actually worsen MS cognitive symptoms. Discuss this with your health professional to find a balance between maintaining cognitive function and managing other MS symptoms in this way.

Using alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with the challenges of MS may be tempting but can create more problems than it solves. Anger, frustration and relationship problems often lie behind heavy use of such drugs – and alcohol’s effect on the brain makes it a drug. Talking therapies such as counseling or psychotherapy may help you find balance and facilitate healthier ways of dealing with your feelings.

The bottom line is that consuming unsafe levels of alcohol are associated with reduced survival in people with MS. So it is important to drink sensibly – look at government guidelines and stick to them particularly when pouring your own drinks at home, where people are often more heavy-handed pourers than in pubs and restaurants.

Most people don’t realise that a bottle of wine contains approximately 9 units of alcohol and that doesn’t change no matter how few glasses you can squeeze the contents of a bottle into.

Also it really is important to remember that even though there is a trend for women to drink similar amounts to men, alcohol tends to have a more pronounced impact on women’s health than on men’s health. Women’s bodies actually process alcohol differently than mens. A man who consumes 6 or more units of alcohol a day is 13 times more likely to develop liver disease than a non-drinker, and a half bottle of wine a day increases a women’s risk to the same degree.

 
 
Hello Brain For more info on brain health visit Hello Brain
 

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