MS and Cabin Fever


Keeping Healthy, Positive and Active

MS and Cabin FeverIf you live through long, cold winters, cabin fever – that feeling of anxiety, restlessness, and irritability that comes with a long stretch indoors – is difficult to avoid.

When you live with multiple sclerosis, reduced mobility can make cabin fever crop up sooner, or at any time of year. It can also be more damaging, working against your best efforts to keep an active lifestyle and wreaking havoc on your MS symptoms along the way.

But there is a way to get through the dark, cold days without losing a grip on your MS management, and it begins with a few easy changes to your daily routine.

Maintaining a Healthy State of Mind

How you perceive your world plays a big role in how you experience symptoms and opportunities, but a healthy state of mind begins with a healthy body. Consider your daily diet, and look to make some additions or replacements that have proven benefits for your emotional wellbeing:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids – Add more salmon, walnuts or flax seed to your menu. Research shows that their high levels of omega 3 fatty acids can elevate mood, which is particularly useful when you’re beginning to feel isolated.
  • Vitamins D and B – The B vitamins – like B12, folic acid, and niacin – support energy metabolism, and experts suggest that vitamin D deficiency is one factor behind many mood disorders. Try to eat more eggs and vitamin D-fortified milk or juice.
  • Zinc – When it comes to stress, zinc is an important ally: it moderates your body’s stress response, and has both anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties. Eat more lean beef, mussels, spinach or cashews when the stress of close quarters gets to you.
  • Tryptophan – The body converts the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that keeps you happy. Try some tryptophan-rich foods like turkey, sunflower seeds, asparagus and tofu.

Attitude and outlook is the other side of the equation. Consider visiting a therapist to learn some cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, and incorporate some simple mediation exercises into each day. And don’t underestimate the power that scent can have on your emotions: lavender, peppermint, and jasmine are uplifting aromas that are known to help with depression and anxiety, and can be used in a number of ways in your home.

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Next page: finding MS-friendly outdoor activities and staying connected.

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