Receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) was validating and overwhelming to Chelsey Horn, but she has since learned to care for herself and live a full life.

In February 2012, I was a busy college student trying my best to maintain straight A’s while taking a full course load and working two part-time jobs.

But that all came crashing down when I heard the words, “Ms. Horn, you have something called multiple sclerosis.”

Having a name for all of my mysterious symptoms was so validating. But it was also incredibly overwhelming.

A thousand questions swirled around my mind. Would I be able to finish school or get a job? How would this affect my relationships? And, most importantly, would I be OK?

It’s been 12 years since my diagnosis. Since then, I’ve learned so much. I still don’t have all the answers, but I’ve found some ways to manage my condition and live a very full life.

Navigating the ups and downs of MS can be a challenge. Some days, I feel amazing and can check everything off my to-do list. On other days, simple tasks — like showering — are difficult.

That’s why I like to check in with my body and assess how I’m feeling. Each morning, I take 10 minutes to write down my goals for the day in my journal and log any symptoms I’m experiencing.

If I’m not feeling well, I’ll try to adjust my schedule and prioritize more rest. But, most importantly, I try not to overdo it on the good days.

One of the best lessons MS has taught me is that it’s OK to ask for help. That’s something I really struggled with in the past. If I’m being honest, I still battle feelings of guilt when I ask for support.

When those feelings surface, I try not to judge myself too harshly. Instead, I try to reframe the way I look at asking for assistance.

I really enjoy Brené Brown’s TEDx Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” It helped me realize that asking for help is an opportunity to foster deeper relationships with my loved ones and myself.

If you struggle with similar feelings, I highly recommend listening to it!

Learning to set boundaries is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health. Before my diagnosis, I was afraid to say “no” to plans.

I would get so much anxiety about disappointing people. But trying to please everyone around me left me sick, tired, and stressed.

Setting healthy boundaries has helped me better protect my physical and mental health. Now, when I’m not feeling well, it’s easier to say “no” to an invitation.

I’ve also learned that those who support me will understand if I can’t do something. And I’ve learned to politely enforce my boundaries when well-meaning people offer unsolicited advice for managing my MS.

There’s no one-size-fits-all diet for managing MS. But I’ve become more intentional about my food choices over the years.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a mega sweet tooth and love chips. But, when I eat these foods, I notice that I feel sluggish and mentally foggy.

That’s why I try to focus on eating nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory foods. Also, since I have food allergies and nutritional deficiencies, I work with a registered dietitian to ensure my dietary needs are met.

Having healthy meal plans on hand helps take the guesswork out of grocery shopping. I try to stock up on colorful fruits, fibrous veggies, and lean proteins. Plus, I like to start my day with a veggie-packed protein shake.

Eating this way helps me feel my best, and I notice that I have more energy and better focus.

I love to cook fresh meals. But I sometimes have reduced hand dexterity when I’m in a flare. That’s why I invested in a few gadgets that make my kitchen safer and more accessible.

Adaptive utensils make food prep, like chopping and cutting produce, easier. And, if I can’t unscrew a lid, I’ll reach for my jar-opener gloves or electric can opener.

To combat forgetfulness, I have a wall calendar to track important dates for things like bills and doctor’s appointments. I also keep my supplements and prescriptions in a weekly pill organizer.

Developing self-care systems has helped me manage stress better. When I have a hard day, I like to unwind with an Epsom salt bath or yoga class.

Lately, I’ve been learning how sleep habits affect brain health. When I don’t prioritize rest, I notice that I feel terrible the next day. That’s why I try to avoid watching TV or scrolling on my phone before bed.

Instead, I like to read a book and drink some tart cherry juice. When I’m consistent with my self-care routine, it boosts my mood and helps me feel rested.

Chelsey is an Atlanta-based writer and content strategist. When she’s not in front of her computer, you’ll probably find her reading, hiking, or spending time with her dogs, George and Beatrice.