Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About MyMSTeam

Setting Intentions for 2020 With Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Posted on January 02, 2020

Eat healthier. Exercise more. Learn a new skill. Pay off a credit card. Many of us have made similar New Year’s resolutions over the years. And many of us have also ended January feeling like failures because we didn’t follow through perfectly. We may feel even more discouraged if our goal was linked to improving how we manage multiple sclerosis.

The problem isn’t that we failed at our resolutions. The problem is that the resolution framework failed us. Resolutions are often binary goals - this or that. Yes or no. Either you went to the gym five days a week or you didn’t. Either you quit smoking or you didn’t. These yes-or-no set-ups can make us feel like losers if we don’t attain perfection. This is true for anyone, but black-and-white goals can be even more challenging when life with MS throws curveballs. Bladder problems, weakness in the arms, or other symptoms can make it more difficult to stick to a new workout routine or keep up a volunteer commitment. An MS relapse or flare may send New Year’s resolutions right out the window.

2020 can be different. Instead of choosing a New Year’s resolution, consider adopting a New Year’s intention. Intentions and resolutions have similarities - both require us to reflect on our lives and identify areas we’d like to improve. But intentions can be more successful than resolutions because they give us the space to work towards progress, even if progress isn’t a straight line.

Intentions account for the reality that habits don’t change overnight. Research from the European Journal of Social Psychology found that it can take people anywhere from 18 days to eight months to create a new habit. And that’s ok - the study found that missing opportunities to follow through did not prevent people from achieving consistency over time, provided they tried again. In other words, if you’ve had trouble exercising to improve flexibility, balance, brain health, and mood, give it another go with a new attitude.

Here are some suggestions for setting intentions that can help improve your physical and emotional well-being:

Find Your “Why”
It’s easy to pick a resolution based on perceived shortcomings, but focusing on your why - your deeper priorities - can make a bigger impact on your overall quality of life. Here are some examples of transitioning from resolutions to intentions that reflect a deeper purpose:

  • “I resolve to lose 20 pounds” becomes “I intend to take steps to increase the energy I have to spend with loved ones.”
  • “I will attend every book club meeting” becomes “I intend to invest more time in my friendships.”
  • “I will pay off a credit card” becomes “I intend to focus my spending on the bills and purchases that have the greatest impact on my life.”
  • “I will stop gossiping” becomes “I will focus on the goodness in others.”

Once you’ve identified your deeper purpose, you can focus on small actions that will support your why. And when you stumble, you can return to your why to renew your motivation.

Lay the Groundwork for Change
Depending on your intention, you may want to consult your doctor to develop a plan. If you’d like to gain more energy, your doctor can help you decide which types of exercise or nutritional plans are best for MS and any other health conditions you might have. Your doctor may also suggest working with a physical therapist or nutritionist to support your New Year’s intention. With the support of your doctor and other health professionals, you can then research new recipes, find online exercise videos, or make plans with a friend to cook and work out together.

Build in Short-Term Rewards
Research from the University of Chicago and Cornell University found that people are better at sticking to goals that yield long-term benefits if they can experience short-term rewards along the way. For example, the study found that people were more likely to eat green vegetables if they found enjoyable ways to prepare them than if they only ate them for health benefits. You can apply the same principle to your intentions.

Show Yourself Compassion
Accept that you won’t always live up to your intentions. Be kind to yourself when you fall short. If you find yourself beating yourself up, stop and think about what you would say to a friend or other member of MyMSTeam in your shoes. Would you knock them down or encourage them to try again? Be as understanding and supportive to yourself as you would to someone else.

Do you have an intention for 2020? Share your hopes for the new year with other members on MyMSTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

Related articles

Tattooing is an ancient practice, but over the past decade, tattoos have become widely available...

Is It Safe To Get Tattoos When You Have Multiple Sclerosis?

Tattooing is an ancient practice, but over the past decade, tattoos have become widely available...
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) often need strategies for battling sleep disturbances. More...

MS and Sleep: Strategies for Battling Sleep Disturbances

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) often need strategies for battling sleep disturbances. More...
Hot tubs are often used to manage certain types of chronic pain. If you are living with multiple...

MS and Hot Tubs: Are Hot Tubs Safe for People With Multiple Sclerosis?

Hot tubs are often used to manage certain types of chronic pain. If you are living with multiple...
Nosebleeds might happen when dry air causes the lining in the nose to crack and bleed, or when...

What’s the Connection Between Multiple Sclerosis and Nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds might happen when dry air causes the lining in the nose to crack and bleed, or when...
There’s very little research available regarding roller coasters and multiple sclerosis (MS)....

Are Roller Coasters Safe for People With MS?

There’s very little research available regarding roller coasters and multiple sclerosis (MS)....
If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re already aware of the impact the condition...

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness: How To Get Involved

If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re already aware of the impact the condition...

Recent articles

Many symptoms can go along with an autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis (MS). Everyone’s MS...

Can MS Affect the Skin? Dryness, Lesions, and More

Many symptoms can go along with an autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis (MS). Everyone’s MS...
If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you may wonder about the therapeutic potential of lion’s...

Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Is It Effective and Safe for MS Symptoms?

If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you may wonder about the therapeutic potential of lion’s...
Some people with multiple sclerosis (MS) find that they repeatedly bite their tongue, lips, or...

Can Biting Your Tongue Be a Symptom of MS?

Some people with multiple sclerosis (MS) find that they repeatedly bite their tongue, lips, or...
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) sometimes develop comorbidities (secondary diseases). Some...

ITP and MS: Can Multiple Sclerosis Cause This Bleeding Disorder?

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) sometimes develop comorbidities (secondary diseases). Some...
Feelings of numbness and tingling are common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Not only can...

Numbness and Tingling in MS

Feelings of numbness and tingling are common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Not only can...
If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you may have experienced a common symptom of the...

Costochondritis vs. MS Hug: What’s the Difference?

If you’re living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you may have experienced a common symptom of the...
MyMSTeam My multiple sclerosis Team

Thank you for signing up.

close