Tips for Living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)


Living with multiple sclerosis means you’ll need to make some life changes, including managing self-care. It’s as important as your medical treatment!

According to neurologist Le Hua, M.D., the earlier you address lifestyle issues, the easier it may be to manage your symptoms or even slow down their progress.


healthy diet with ms

A healthy diet is one that promotes healthy foods and limits less healthy ones, like processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods. Hua recommends the Mediterranean diet as a good eating plan for most people with MS. Not only does it focus on healthy foods, it’s fairly affordable. Recommended foods include:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Whole grain bread, cereals and pastas
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Seafood and poultry
  • Olive oil


Exercise or increasing activity might seem like it adds to the tiredness that comes with living with MS. But exercise actually reduces fatigue and increases your endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. What you do after your MS diagnosis depends on your fitness level before it. If you ran marathons and went to the gym every day, continuing at that level helps. If you never exercised before, gradually introduce activity. Even walking around the block is helpful. Don’t forget, building up your core helps with balance and reduces falls. Some activities that can improve your core fitness are:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Resistance band exercises
  • Stretching


sleep with MS

Many people with MS have a lot of tiredness. Not getting enough sleep leads to even more fatigue, but sleep issues due to MS can have different causes:

  • Anxiety, especially just after diagnosis
  • Pain
  • Getting up frequently to pee

Things you can do to encourage better sleep:

  • Don’t use electronics, watch TV, exercise, or do any activities that stimulate your body or mind two to three hours before bed.
  • Do something relaxing, such as journaling, coloring or any calming activity.
  • Take strategic naps, no longer than 15–20 minutes.
  • Speak with your doctor if pain or frequent peeing is keeping you awake.

Manage your weight

Adipose tissue, so-called fat cells, are inflammatory. These increase MS symptoms. Weight loss should be based on how you feel though, Hua said, not the numbers on a scale. So don’t focus on that. Focus more on improving your diet and exercising. Reach out to a dietitian to guide and support you if needed.

Stop smoking

Smoking makes MS symptoms and outcomes worse, so quitting the tobacco habit is important. Smoking increases inflammation in your body and also negatively affects MS medications. Quitting smoking can slow down MS progression and reduce relapses. Ask your doctor for help or reach out to support groups. It might take several attempts, but each time, you’ll be a bit closer to your goal.

Take care of your mental health

woman practicing yoga to help with MS

Whether it’s journaling, meditating, or speaking with a mental health professional or support group, taking care of your mental health is an important part of living well with MS.

This educational resource was created with support from Novartis.

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