How to Avoid the Sticky Points

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

Share this article:

Share article via email
mindfulness, adapt, future

Lately, I’ve been on alert trying to avoid sticky points. These are what I call particular points in my day when I’m most vulnerable to distractions. Because if I give in to the distraction, I end up lost in negative thoughts and I weaken the positive mindset I’ve created to help me live with ALS. But by knowing when my sticky points are most likely to happen and having a plan in place, I can avoid them altogether.

What are my sticky points?

I have identified three. The first one happens when I wake up in the morning. I could give in to dreading the day ahead: Here’s to another day dragging around a rollator and drinking thickened coffee through a straw!

Instead, I mentally chant the positive affirmation: I am happy, I am healthy, I am fit, and I am successful. Affirmations are encouraging statements we tell ourselves to maintain a positive attitude and keep our worries in perspective. Studies show that optimism has benefits for mental well-being. When I hear these words first thing in the morning, I feel them!

I then do a few gentle stretches while thinking ahead to the day’s projects that await me.

My second sticky point happens in the afternoon when my energy drops and I slump deeper into my chair. It would be easy to stay seated, stare at the computer screen, and unproductively click through posts on Facebook.

Join our ALS forums: an online community especially for patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Instead, I set an alarm on my tablet to go off at 3 p.m. This reminds me to stop, get up, move, and have a fruit smoothie. It doesn’t matter whether we are doing the moving or someone helps us do it, our bodies benefit from frequent movement (or exercise) breaks.

My last sticky point waits for me at night, when I’m in bed and the lights are off. It would be easy to lie awake for hours, imagining all sorts of dire ALS-related scenarios.

Instead, I fall asleep remembering the day’s events and people with thoughts of gratitude and knowing my life has purpose. People with a strong sense of purpose in life have higher scores in mental health, well-being, and cognitive function. We even sleep better.

What are your sticky points?

We each have a different journey with ALS but share the potential to succumb to negative thinking. Take a moment to identify the triggers that can derail you and when they might pop up. Try my tips or have a few of your own in reserve.

I’ve found that following a strategy to avoid my sticky points helps to keep my energy up and my attitude positive. Because I believe we can live well while living with ALS.


Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Pam Hunter avatar

Pam Hunter

Mornings are my worst part of the day - the dread of ALS. I go to bed at night with earphones in my ears and I listen to Louise Hay healing tape or Reiki music. I like the idea of affirmations so I will take your suggestion on that.

And I thought coffee and tea was a no-no with ALS. If you can do it, I can too! Thickened coffee is better than no coffee at all. (I thicken my drinks as well.) And a fruit smoothie in the afternoon ... lovely!

And I need to be better with projecting the most favorable outcome. (Dr.Joe Dispenza)

You are a lifesaver! I love your positive outlook and it helps me ever so much. Thanks a million!

Gratefully, Pam

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Thank you for your kind words Pam. It sounds like you already have some good strategies in place to avoid your sticky points!

As far as coffee goes - - and I just checked the general available research - - the latest study (2015) of 1,000,000 men and women concluded that caffeine intake carries no risk for ALS. In fact, caffeine is thought to be neuroprotective. Here is the link to the study: I believe the controversy began with the caution that caffeine is not recommended for Parkinson's patients. ....I've been drinking one cup of java in the morning for the past 9 years of my ALS; I guess it's both my physical and emotional "protective" ;)

Keep up the positive attitude. We share the goal to live well while living with ALS!

Barbara McLean avatar

Barbara McLean

From the report, you listed above. it does not increase the risk of having ALS but it DOES NOT PROTECT either. "Although caffeine has neuroprotective effects in animal models of Parkinson's Disease (7), in the only published study in animal models of ALS, CAFFEINE administration WAS REPORTED TO ACCELERATE DISEASE PROGRESSION AND TO SHORTEN SURVIVAL IN SODL MICE. The results of both epidemiological and experimental studies, therefore, unfortunately, suggest that CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION DOES NOT HAVE BENEFICIAL EFFECTS in the disease process that leads to ALS". This copied word for word from the article

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

That's very interesting Barbara. Thank you for adding to the conversation. However, the study you cite was from 2013; two years earlier than the large longitudinal study (2015) that I referred to, which stated in the conclusions section: "In summary, in this large longitudinal study, we found no association between intakes of caffeine, coffee or tea and ALS risk."

Yes, this is looking at "risk" not "protection" during the course of ALS or, if caffeine contributes to survival. It certainly wasn't good for the mice! (wish we could find out how much daily caffeine was consumed by the mice in ratio to typical human consumption). We should also remember that not all animal study results translate into equal results in humans. I'm no research expert, so I'll wait for more evidence to validate one side or the other. Thanks again for bringing this up.

Sheila Lowrie avatar

Sheila Lowrie

Oh my!! I have drunk one glorious cup of coffee every morning of the four years since my ALS diagnosis. Very strong coffee with steamed milk and whipped cream on's the reason I get out of bed with a smile in the mornings. I wonder if mice weren't meant to drink coffee?

Diana Belland avatar

Diana Belland

I appreciated the tips in this week's column so much, Dagmar. Mornings are definitely one of my "sticky points." But I overcome the feelings of dread with thoughts of the delicious cup of coffee my husband will soon be bringing me. He always rises about two hours before I do and has the coffee ready for me. I drink the first one in bed while reading the news on my laptop. Before long, my husband reappears, asking if I'm ready for my second cup. This daily ritual of two cups of coffee in bed gets me through the first hour of the day and then I'm ready to tackle my morning exercise routine. It's comforting to think that something I enjoy so much---my two cups of morning coffee--pose no harm and might even be neuroprotective.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.