How MS-Friendly Is Your Lifestyle?

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After receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS), you may be wondering what steps you can take — in addition to medication — to prevent flares, manage symptoms, and help you feel more in control of this unpredictable disease.

The good news: According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), taking stock of your behaviors — from your diet and exercise habits to your sleep and stress-management routines — and making improvements where necessary can help you manage your MS.

“Little daily interventions are extremely powerful,” says Leigh Charvet, PhD, a professor of neurology at NYU School of Medicine and director of MS research at the NYU Langone Health Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center in New York City. “Many studies show it’s habits — small, doable things that you just do repeatedly — that have the biggest payoffs down the line,” adds Dr. Charvet, who is also a clinical neuropsychologist who has worked for more than 25 years with people living with MS.

Although you shouldn’t make any changes to most aspects of your MS management plan without guidance from your healthcare team, this is one area where you can take the lead.

“MS is a condition that requires self-management,” says Kevin Alschuler, PhD, psychology director and director of rehabilitation research at the Multiple Sclerosis Center at UW Medicine in Seattle. So while your healthcare team may help manage a single problem, such as fatigue, he explains, they really want you to learn how to handle challenges independently in the future.

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