December 1, 2003
Real Living with Multiple Sclerosis
WRONG! There is another part of your body that needs attention-your brain!
Just like your muscles, your brain needs exercise too. Just like your legs, your brain can get flabby. Just like your arms, your brain needs to be kept active.
You don't have to do 25 repetitions of trigonometry, solve The New York Times' Sunday crossword puzzle, or memorize the names of all our nation's presidents in order. Brain exercises are not complicated; they're enjoyable and can make a real difference. Here are some suggestions to consider:
1. Read the newspaper-the weekly and daily editions. The last time I checked the statistics, newspapers were written on a 7th grade level. You can handle that! (Note: If the negative news gets you down, only read the positive sections. Enjoy the comics, advice column, recipes, and home section.)
2. Read a book. I know that sounds like a rather simple suggestion, but that book will help you with memory and sequencing and you might even learn something in the process. A book is good company. It takes you into the lives and times of its characters and entertains you. You can lie down to read, too. Books on tape are even easier to "read"!
3. Buy an easy, jumbo print crossword puzzle book. It isn't important to test your vocabulary skills as much as it is to keep the ability to recall everyday words. For those of you who don't like to cook, the answer to "part of a stove" is "oven"; for the sports fan, "a skater's jump" is "axel"; and, for those with little ones or little "grand" ones, "baby's seat" is "lap"! Keep the books easy and have fun! (P.S. If you really get stuck, the answers are in the back of the book!)
4. Haul out that old flute or set of drums or dust off the piano and start playing again. You can hit those notes when no one is home, behind the door of a soundproof room, or hope your family really loves you as you play in the living room. Keep it simple, take it easy, and remember that if music helps increase a child's reading and math skills, it can help you too!
5. Attend plays and concerts. They stimulate your senses, get you out of the house, and provide afternoons or evenings of enjoyment.
6. Turn off the television!! Television is not an interactive device. You can become a vegetable, sitting in front of the tube for hours at a time. Perhaps the home decorating channels will spur you to do something about the awful color of your bathroom. I guess that's OK. There are a few other channels with redeeming qualities, but be careful!
7. Become other-person centered. Other people have problems too. There are people in your town or on your block that would love a phone call, a note, or a silly, little card from you. This gesture can brighten their day and, in turn, brighten yours.
8. Keep a journal or diary. You can type it on the computer, write in a notebook (the ones with wideruled lines!), or record it on tape. Oh, and be sure to write or say the date. This helps you remember too. Be sure to mention positive thoughts, such as the beautiful weather, the delicious meal your husband cooked, and the "good days" you've had.
9. Observe the world around you. Note the leaves on the trees, the way the sun lights up the corner of your house, or how the birds are already changing color in preparation for winter.
10. Remember this sage advice: "You only live once. But if you work
it right, once is enough." - Joe E. Lewis
Copyright © 2003, Real Living with Multiple Sclerosis