Skip Big Projects in Favor of Small Tasks

Last updated: March 2021

Autumn is in full swing in the mid-Atlantic with a few colorful leaves still hanging onto the trees. Nature is on course to usher us into the winter season right on schedule. In some ways, nature seems to be the only thing that is going according to plan this year.

Stay-at-home orders

Almost nine months ago, we were urged to stay home due to the early increases of COVID-19 cases that were spreading through urban areas of the country. Offices closed and people worked from home when possible. Medical appointments became virtual visits and confusion reined regarding whether or not wearing disposable gloves was a good idea.

Changes to our daily lives

We were urged to change how we accomplished necessary tasks, such as ordering groceries for curbside pickup and taking advantage of free prescription deliveries from the local pharmacy. Many of my friends started baking bread, images of which shared on social media looked delicious.

Recovering from cleaning out my mother-in-law's home

Some people who were newly “stuck at home” started projects like cleaning out and organizing their houses. I personally did not begin the big home reorganization, having recently finished cleaning out my mother-in-law’s home last year. That enormous task took away any urge I might have toward deep dive house cleaning or nesting now or in the near future. As a result, our house looks pretty much the same as it did in March; still as cluttered as ever.

Trying a pantry clean-out project

One exception I made was a concerted effort to try to “clean out” the pantry and freezer by eating through excess contents. We had an aging supply of canned and frozen foods that needed to be consumed. For a while, my culinary project was a successful endeavor. But as time went by, it became more obvious which items had been recovered from my mother-in-law’s house — and thus stayed on our shelves for too long — and which items are our favorites that we replenish frequently. Eventually, I noticed that some of the excess food items were expired already and must have sat ignored within my MIL’s cabinets for years.

Living with MS takes a lot of upkeep

There are medical visits, periodic testing, medications for the disease and for symptoms, as well as lifestyle choices, that when combined help to improve life with the disease. Sometimes managing each of these factors can feel like facing a disheveled home that desperately needs attention when you don’t have the time or energy to do so. It can become overwhelming but life with MS is not a race. Take the time to take care of yourself.

Make taking care of yourself part of your daily routine

Even simple things, like stretching, if neglected, can become like those less favored cans of lima beans that get ignored and overlooked week after week. Eventually, the beans will expire and become just one more excess item that needs to be cleared out of the cabinets — just like spasticity and reduced mobility can creep in and become much harder deal with than if only daily stretching remained part of your routine.

Making time for the simple tasks

As I take stock of what’s going on in my MS body — much as I look around this messy house — I recognize so many little daily decisions could improve both my physical and emotional well-being. Choosing to place junk mail and empty envelopes directly into the recycling bin would be akin to choosing to take ten minutes to gently stretch or pamper yourself. Both are simple tasks, but easy to overlook or postpone.

How I take care of myself

When living with MS, it’s better not to postpone the little things that keep you functioning at your highest level. For me, that means I need to eat well (lots of protein and fresh vegetables), stretch, exercise regularly, focus on stress reduction, listen to my body and rest before I need to, and not feel guilty if things don’t go as planned. MS or not, I promise to not feel guilty about not overhauling our house during the not-so-extra time at home.

What have you done or chosen not to do during the past nine months? How have your choices affected your MS, positive or negative?

I look forward to your responses and stories.

Be well, my friends,
Lisa

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