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A bicycle with a loose chain hanging down.

Maintaining Good Habits With MS Isn’t Always Easy

In my humble opinion, one of the many prerequisites for living a successful life (however you may personally define that) with multiple sclerosis (MS) is learning to be able to stay organized and maintain good habits. Habits that allow you to keep your life as balanced as possible and your health (both physical and mental) as stable as can be. All this in order to help you keep the machine that you call “your life” operating smoothly because when one part stops functioning as it should, that usually means that every other part suffers. It took me years to figure this “simple” concept out and I would say that I’ve barely scratched the surface of how to actually implement it in a way that actually works…

Maintaining healthy habits

Let me put it this way: I obviously don’t know how to make my life perfect, but I do know how to make it better. I don’t know how to totally solve my insomnia issues (for example), but I do know how to get better sleep so that insomnia isn’t as destructive to the unbelievably sensitive equilibrium I call my life. Continuing with the insomnia example, I have a series of good habits that I’ve come to adopt over the years that have shown (in my case) to actually help improve my sleep quality. As a result, this helps to keep “the machine” running. However, here lies the problem; while all the good habits that I’ve developed greatly improve my quality of life, they only do so when I can maintain them… as soon as I lose control of just one of these habits, the house of cards that I’ve carefully built seems to come crashing down.

Good habits are not easy to maintain

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I feel like my ability to keep my life with MS running as smoothly as possible is kind of like riding an old bike with a loose chain. It seems to ride fine so long as you don’t “push things too hard,” but when you do? When the balance of your life is disrupted just a little bit by something like a cold, a stressful life event, or an especially hot day? It’s like that bike chain falls off and you have to pull over and fidget with it until you get things back on track. Otherwise? Well, you’re not going to be moving forward… I feel like this happens for primarily one reason; maintaining the good habits that “keep your bike chain from falling off” or “keep the house of cards that you’ve built from crashing down”? Is not easy…

MS makes it difficult to stay discliplined

This is where I struggle to come up with an answer. Not long ago, I would have boasted about how much self-discipline I have. I was organized, good at sticking to a strict schedule, and good at not letting myself stray from any of the good habits that made up my life. But, at some point, this changed… and I’m not sure if that’s a reflection of me having lost my self-discipline or of my MS having simply made it more difficult to stay as disciplined as I was before. Basically, did I lose the self-discipline that I once had or does my life with MS now require so much more self-discipline than I’ve ever had? I honestly don’t know because I can make really good arguments for both possibilities…

It doesn’t take much to kick me off track

Regardless, that’s sort of beside the point I’m trying to make. My point is that, at least for me, creating a good habit to help improve some aspect of my life with MS is typically pretty straightforward, and implementing it is usually easy. But maintaining it? That’s what’s really difficult because it doesn’t seem to take much at all to kick me off track, and I imagine that most others can say the same. When the weight of your fatigue has exponentially increased, when the momentum of your vertigo has become far more violent than usual, or when one of the countless other MS calamities has knocked you down, it can be tough to stick to the good habits that you know serve an important purpose. That play some sort of key role in keeping the machine that is your life running smoothly. I’ve yet to discover a solid solution for this…

Do you feel like your life with MS is easily pushed off track? Like you spend all this time building a house of cards out of good habits to manage your MS only to see it come crashing down in an instance as soon as one, tiny, little thing doesn’t line up just right? How do YOU maintain good habits and keep from straying from them? Share your experience and tips below in the comments!

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Comments

  • Janus Galante moderator
    1 month ago

    Hi Matt,
    that’s a really difficult question. I find it easier, MUCH easier, to maintain any good habits in my “safe” places and “safe” boundaries.

    If I stray beyond those places, things, etc. that are unfamiliar, it seems as though it’s so much easier to become undone & unraveled.

    It’s a great article and one that makes you take pause and think about it.

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 month ago

    I think that’s one of the most valuable things I can give someone; something to think about. Thanks!

  • potter
    1 month ago

    I have been paying the MS tax a lot lately. My husband retired a year ago. He wants to shop and get out and about. Even though he drops me at the door and I use a cart when one is available. I find all of this shopping very tiring. The next day I don’t do much. Today I watched TV until noon after I finished my stretches. Then I worked on cleaning a small bookcase. I heated a frozen dinner for our evening meal. Hoping I can finish the bookcase tomorrow, I have been working on it since Monday. Potter

  • Toledo34287
    1 month ago

    Thanks Matt. Good quote “make a good habit”. Maybe it will be on my try to complete at least one thing today.

    Good habit? Even tiny things, like what calendaring system works best for me? Then starts the internal debate that leads to research and possibly one trial run. These things become central and can use time energy. We deal with these non issues everyday. Ok now I’m tired.

    Good article. Thanks

  • poppydarling
    1 month ago

    What a great topic. Yes, the rhythm of my new, ever-changing normal is often pushed off track. What’s worse is I often blame myself for elements often out of my control. I do best when I keep it simple, and remember compassion towards myself at all times.

  • Janus Galante moderator
    1 month ago

    I meant to say, so EASY to become upset with ourselves!

  • Janus Galante moderator
    1 month ago

    poppydarling,
    I love what you said here, ” and remember compassion towards myself at all times.”

    It’s so difficult when our bike chain falls off as Matt put it, to become upset with ourselves over the smallest things even.

    Thank you for this reminder!

  • Johan
    2 months ago

    Wow, 2 great articles in one sitting, this one and Mitch’s before it, must be yet another awakening of sorts for me and my MS. This makes about the 58th one in my MS career of about 8 years, maybe the 158th, who knows.

    To answer your questions Matt, no and no. if I don’t do what keeps me upright then I fall down, and that sucks. So much so that maintaining my good habits become less of a chore and more like a grateful solution.

    Don’t get me wrong, like Gregg Allman I’m no Angel. I get pissed at the simplest things, like tying my shoe, yes I can still tie my shoe but not with simple ease like before. Already this morning I’ve gotten angry enough to curse out loud. Once at the light switch. And I’ve only been up a couple of hours. Good thing I live alone.

    For as bad as I got, I got it pretty good. Thanks for posting everyone.

    JE

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 month ago

    Yeah, I would definitely say it’s more of a solution than a chore but sometimes it’s hard to maintain everything. When that happens, and everything falls apart, it definitely screws me up and I wish I could just jump right back in like nothing happened but it’s not always so easy. So basically, in a way, it’s like a chore but a chore with only benefits.

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