5 Ways Your MS Can Benefit From Nature
A fine day out can’t “cure” MS, but it can sure heal a good few aspects of the disease.
Modern medicine has yet to cure multiple sclerosis. Current disease modifying drug therapies can slow the course of the disease and reduce relapses of new symptoms. Many prescription medications ameliorate symptoms of MS. But I’ve found that getting out of the house and into nature can make me feel better even if it doesn’t make my MS “better” or make my symptoms go away.
Here are a few of the ways that you can couple treating your disease with treating yourself to a back-to-nature experience.
1. Get out in the garden
I’m often one to say that gardening is the perfect hobby for me, as I’ve no distance to fall if I’m on my knees in the vegetable or flower beds. It’s also a way for me to see (and feel a sense of) accomplishment even in a short span of time. A few feet of weedless soil or a few new plantings can be beautiful reward for my efforts, a moment of completion that extends well into the next season (of the year, and of my MS).
2. Go into the light
The benefits of vitamin D for MS are becoming clearer (and there is little evidence that it’s anything but helpful). As little as 20 minutes of skin exposure to the sun’s light can be enough to maintain healthy levels of the hormone in our systems. Sure, many of us may need a boost via supplements, but can you think of a better way of getting something we need as well as the feeling of warmth and freedom from being out in the sun (protected, of course) for a third of an hour ever day?
3. Do it in the great outdoors
Many of us with MS practice complementary methods of staying healthy. Mindfulness, yoga practice, meditation, exercise, and stretching are just a few that come to mind. All can be boosted in enjoyment and efficacy in peaceful, natural surroundings. I’m not saying that we’ll attain enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, but taking ourselves into nature and coupling the effects of complementary medicine with the restorative aspects of nature can only amplify the experience.
4. Man’s best friend
American cartoonist Charles M. Schulz taught my generation that “Happiness is a warm puppy”. Well, he was right… and then some.
On my worst MS days, I might only be able to get to the door to let my Wheaten Terriers out into the garden. On any other day the Terriers (and I) need a bit of exercising and the blue notes which MS can bring to a day need exorcizing. Both can be accomplished with even the shortest trot down our bohereen. On a good day it may be a lap further afield, but no matter the distance, a trip out with the dogs overlaps with several of the points above. AND I’m with my pack.
5. Go sit on a rock
In researching my next book project, I was speaking with a woman who lives a few hours away from my home. She spoke of the healing nature and connection to time she gains from sitting on the rocks of the Flaggy Shore at the edge of The Burren in north County Clare.
It’s not just the Flaggy Shore that holds this ability to bring peace and connection with time and place. I can, however, say that the half hour I spent planted on those rocks after our conversation made me understand that finding a rock (or a tree trunk, or a beach, or even a park bench) in a special spot is something I need to do more often. Because good for my MS or not, it was assuredly good for me.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
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