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MS Wellness Retreat at Jefferson NJ Provides Unique Opportunity to Reduce Stress

November 21, 2019

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the protective covering around the nerves, disrupting communication between the brain and other parts of the body. It typically onsets between the ages of 20 and 50, and can cause a wide range of symptoms, including tremors, muscle paralysis, uncomfortable or tingling sensations, vision and speech complications, and much more.

According to the National MS Society, there are nearly one million people in the U.S. living with MS; an estimated 200 cases are diagnosed weekly. Unfortunately, health professionals have not yet been able to determine an exact cause behind the disease. However, it is known to be two to three times more common in women than in men.

For those who have never witnessed a friend of family member live with MS, it can be difficult to understand how life-changing it is, explains an attendee of the Maressa Center for MS Wellness at Jefferson Health in New Jersey.

In managing the symptoms and progression of MS, it is paramount to reduce stress and maintain physical, spiritual, and cognitive health. This grateful attendee of the recent retreats says they have been incredibly helpful and relieving.

She was diagnosed with MS at the age of 29. Her symptoms progressed rapidly, and she had to quit their full-time job, only able to take up substitute teaching for a short time.

In those who live with MS, symptoms can flair up or subside at any time. There are good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, and so on.

Now, she relies on a caretaker/family member to take her places, as she can no longer drive. “My social life consists of doctors' appointments. I miss being able to go out with friends to ski, work out, or even just go shopping. Life with MS is a lot lonelier than people know.”

“I didn’t realize how much I needed these retreats,” she continued. “I knew I was going a little stir-crazy, but I forgot how fulfilling it is to network with people. We have a chance to laugh and not think about MS for a while – but if we do want to discuss it, we have an open forum to do so.”

“Group meditation has been my favorite part,” she said. “I’ve tried meditating at home before, but could never quite get the hang of it. I have also learned exercises that have helped greatly with my stiff shoulders. Of course, I think we all enjoy the pampering part of the day!”

The attendee also mentioned that many people with MS do struggle to afford transportation and a proper caretaker, especially when the cost of these services increases. She hopes that one day, as treatments improve, less people will need this kind of assistance, and they will not fall through the cracks anymore.   

“MS has taught me a lot,” she said. “It’s important for other people to know how much we rely on others to do what the average person takes for granted.”

These free, day-long MS Wellness Retreats feature learning exercises, spa experiences, guest speakers, art therapy, and more, for those with MS and their caretakers. For more information on the Maressa Center for MS Wellness at Jefferson, call 856-922-5095. Retreats will resume in the New Year; dates TBD.