Defining the 'style' in Lifestyle for MS

A lot of clients, when they first come to my office, will say, “I’m supposed to do these lifestyle changes to heal MS, but I’m not exactly sure what that means?” They comment that they’ve done changes in:

  • their diet
  • they’ve detoxed
  • they’ve worked on their gut health
  • tried to improve their sleep
  • and they are doing everything possible to continue to exercise.

And they tell me that it’s making some difference but they are wondering and concerned if there is more to the lifestyle changes necessary to manage multiple sclerosis!  Are you also stumped?

Lifestyle Changes to Heal MS

There’s a lot that you can include in lifestyle changes, but what we are going to review in this post (and video) is that what you are doing, but, how. The how is the ‘style’ in lifestyle. Let me make this point more clearly with a story.  This story is called, “Awakening the Muse”.

The Story of Awakening the Muse

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who was very responsible and very dedicated to her work. She always gave it her all. That meant doing 110% everywhere, every day. Quotes that described her way of living would be “Rest is rust.” She was always busy, busy, busy and she was allergic to the word ‘lazy’.

Another quote that described her was “Pull yourself by your own bootstraps”. She was very independent and didn’t like to ask for help because it meant she didn’t know how to do something or wasn’t good enough.

If we could describe herself as a book title it would be  “Smarter, Faster, and Better”, “The Art of Working Hard”, and “The Checklist Manifesto“. She loved checking things off her checklist and was always striving to do things better.

Her goal was success. She wanted to have a successful career, an attractive marriage, a beautiful home. Though she was mostly focused on career achievements. She was always climbing the ladder at work and pushed herself so she could get a promotion each year. She wanted to be the perfect picture of success.

But deep down, her biggest fear was failing.  She couldn’t stop for fear of being seen as  unworthy or not good enough. You couldn’t see that from the outside though.  Because her fears motivated her to work even harder, to get even better, and to never ever rest.

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Life becomes Unsustainable

And this way of living became very unsustainable for her body. And it began to break down. At first, she had difficulty seeing well, but she compensated and kept going. Then her legs started getting heavier and they wouldn’t run as fast as she wanted to. Then the fatigue started and that completely stopped her drive. She felt something terrible was taking away all she thought she wanted. But her inner muse had other plans.

All the young woman wanted was to return to the lifestyle she had been living. Her inner muse, however, had other plans. And so for years and years, the young woman and her inner muse fought.

Until, one day, she realized that her muse was her soul calling her back.

The Muse – The Inspiration of Artists

Muse comes from Greek mythology.  It is the goddess of poetry, art, and song. Artists are very familiar with the concept Muse – it is the source or spirit that inspires them in their art.

And so when the young woman started listening to her muse, instead of fighting the calling, things started changing. She put down her pushing, insisting, and the need to succeed, and began to follow what the muse was trying to tell her.

Her whole life changed with her muse’s guidance.

Lifestyle Changes to Heal MS

Her Muse completed changes how the, not so young anymore, women lived her life.

Instead of having an insatiable drive for success, she paces her efforts. She gave 80% of her energy and made sure she was never the sacrifice (if you’ve watched our video on neurophysical therapy, you’ll understand the concept of doing no more than 80%).

The new quotes that she began living by were that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

And she also adapted the quote, “If I don’t fit in, then I’m actually doing the right thing” instead of trying and trying to fit in and trying to do things that would make everyone happy.

And the books titles that she was attracted to (and actually read now that she had more time) were “The Joy of Not Working” and “The Artist’s Way.

Why these are some of the Inner Muse’s Favorite Books

As a side note, in “The Joy of Not Working,” the author explains the misconception in our society regarding work hard to retire well. We think we are supposed to work, work, work, work, work, work. Trying to get as much money as possible during our working years until we’re 65. And then we’re supposed to retire and enjoy ourselves. But the problem is when we get there, we don’t know how to relax nor how to enjoy ourselves! We get restless, and bored, and uncomfortable with leisure. So, we start taking volunteer work, and we start making ourselves as busy as we can because that’s all we know how to do. And so ‘The Joy of Not Working”, talks about learning how to enjoy time not working.  It’s an invitation to take the time to learn to enjoy life.

The book invites the reader to take mini-retirements throughout their careers to really understand what it’s like to not work. It doesn’t invite you to quit your job. But it does help you transform your mindset and learn to enjoy leisure time. 

In the second book the muse loves is, “The Artist’s Way.” In it, Julia Cameron gives us the steps to awaken our inner muse and learn to do things simply for the delight they bring.

Multiple Sclerosis is Your Inner Muse

And so now returning to our not so young any more women’s story. The quote/goal she began to live by was that

“It is not selfish to love yourself, to take care of yourself and to make your happiness a priority, it’s necessary” by Mandy Hale

I don’t know if you have figured this out already, but, your MS is your muse. And when you awakened and listen to your muse; when you actually stop struggling to keep doing what you were doing; and start doing what your body is moving you towards; that’s when you begin to heal.

Lifestyle Changes are not What you are Doing but How

lifestyle-multiple-sclerosisSo how does this story and the muse have to do with lifestyle changes for MS?

When you compare the women’s lifestyle before and after she listened to her muse, you’ll see the main changes was not what she was doing but how. And so I ask you how are you doing your lifestyle? Are you pushing yourself and beating yourself to change your diet, exercise, etc? Is your goal doing ‘healthy’ perfectly or doing health enjoyably and without pressure? 

You can’t improve your body by doing those healthy things in an unhealthy way.

The word pushing and doing it perfectly is not in the muse’s lifestyle!

How are You Going to Change the Style in Your Lifestyle?

The lifestyle changes to heal MS is not about pushing yourself to exercise more or perfecting your diet. It’s about nurturing your inner muse. And I think it is one of the most surprising and unique aspects of multiple sclerosis.

Those with MS that truly change their lives around, and with it, their symptoms, start making dates with themselves, some daily, some weekly, to really nurture their inner muse. They write science fiction novels, they start bird watching, they write poetry, journal, create beautiful jewelry, go on nature walks, hug trees and sit in the grass, and truly explore what creates joy in their lives outside of achievements.

Lifestyle Changes is about Creating Balance

Your inner muse, your MS, is trying to create more balance in your life. And to create balance, you need to find those things that feed your soul. Those pleasures that are not for anyone else, but you.

I invite you to have a date with this inner muse. Explore the things that you used to do as a kid. Those things you really loved that you somehow grew out of. Bring them back and nurture them.  And when you do, you will notice a lot of things begin to shift.

As counterintuitive as it seems, playing, singing, craft making, and stopping to enjoy a beautiful ray of sun in the park, will give you more energy and mental clarity than pushing yourself to do more.

Posted in  Creating Health Series, Psychology of MS   on  September 21, 2020 by  Eva Clark
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