As someone who has been living with fibromyalgia officially since 2014 and unofficially for many years before that, I’ve discovered some great tips for living with fibromyalgia. I’d like to share my tips with you today since they have proved to be helpful to patients who are new to fibro and for veteran patients who might have something to add.
In recognition of World Fibromyalgia Day on May 12, 2021 this year, here are my top tips for living with fibromyalgia:
Out of all the advice that I’ve seen and tried for living well with fibromyalgia, here is a very well known fact amongst fibromyalgia advocates that doctors fail to tell many new patients.
Living well with fibromyalgia requires a complete lifestyle change and lifestyle management.
If only they’d address this as soon as we receive our diagnosis!Here is a very well known fact amongst fibromyalgia advocates that doctors fail to tell many new patients: Living well with fibromyalgia requires a complete lifestyle change and lifestyle management. Click To Tweet
Minimize stress in your life
Stress makes fibro worse. Identify stress triggers in your life and give them the boot! When you feel a stress reaction coming on, notice it and then do your best to calm your mind. I use art as a coping technique, but other examples are meditation, yoga, and exercise for those of you who can do it. The point is to engage in activities that make you feel better while disengaging from things in your life that make you feel worse.
Work/life balance is key
The quickest way to hit Stress City, in my world at least, is by getting too caught up in work. This was the biggest challenge/obstacle I had to face when I got sick because I own my own company. It took time to reset my schedule and start working hours that were good for me. That meant ditching my regular work schedule and moving to a schedule that worked better with my sleep and rest times. I’m more productive when I can maximize the time I’ve got by working around my worst times of day. I also overhauled my office to make my work space more comfortable and accessible.
Say NO and don’t feel bad about it
I don’t know about you, but I used to be a people pleaser until fibro came along. It didn’t take me long to realize I was saying yes to things when I really needed rest. Learning how to say no was a difficult lesson for me, but it’s one of the best lessons to learn because it really does benefit your health in every way. It’s ok to say no! Saying no allows you to stay on your pacing schedule while giving you the time to prioritize what you need to do in life to avoid those dreaded flares.
Have a hot bath
I love this tip so much because it’s not only beneficial to your health, it’s also good for your soul. I cannot stress how much a magnesium-rich bath can help to reduce muscle pain and help you relax while also promoting better sleep.Life With Fibromyalgia – The perfect spa bath mix is: 1/3 cup of magnesium chloride flakes, 1 cup of Epsom Salts, two squirts of Sweet Almond Oil or another carrier oil, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Click To Tweet
I love jasmine oil, ylang ylang oil, and lavender oil.
Create every day
By far, my best coping technique is making something. When I lost the ability to destress with sports, I turned to art and started creating every day. It’s a zen activity that makes life much less complicated. I make floral arrangements; I love indoor gardening, and I create jewelry, color, write, and paint. Whether it’s cooking, exercising, art, or some other hobby that allows your creative juices to flow, if it makes you feel good, do it!
Creating art is also a great stress busting technique and it helps to boost your energy.
Go for a walk
Nothing beats going out for a nice walk if you can do it. If you struggle with your daily step count like me, make it a short walk and try doing it a few times a day. Walking is not only great exercise, but it’s good for your mental health as well!
Fighting fibro fog? List it
If you’re experiencing brain fog, memory issues or headaches, write it down. I keep a note app on my phone for reminders and I always have a pen and paper nearby so I don’t forget things.
Nothing compares to you OR anyone else for that matter
It’s really easy to compare ourselves to what others are doing, whether they’re healthy or sick. Focus on what you can do and take pride on your accomplishments. There’s no point in trying to keep up with the Joneses when you’re living with fibro. Your body will let you know what it can and can’t do, so don’t try pushing through or comparing what you can do to others.
This advice includes other fibro patients as well since we’re all different. Some fibro patients can do way more than I can. In fact I have a friend who regularly goes for runs. Her fibro is quite bad, but she can still run. I can’t do that at all, and I never feel bad about it. I’m happy to be her cheerleader instead.
Sweet, sweet sleep
Since most of us living with fibromyalgia often wake up feeling unrefreshed, turn your bedroom into a nest and set the mood for maximum sleep and rest.
My room is dark, quiet, and cool. There’s nothing in there that keeps me up. If I watch TV, I have a hard rule about turning it off by a certain time every night. I also turn my phone off and unplug all electronics before I go to sleep. Wind down with that bath I mentioned earlier, listen to some music, make something, or read a book during the last few hours before you turn out the lights.
Talk about your life with fibromyalgia
You do not need to pretend that things are ok when they’re not. Your loved ones should know what makes your symptoms worse and they should have an understanding of what your life is like. After all, you’re living a new normal that most people cannot comprehend. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, other people living with fibromyalgia, or even speak to a counselor.
Life with fibromyalgia is stressful and you deserve to be able to talk about it without fear of being shamed or mocked.
A few years ago, I had someone close to me try to shame me by saying that I talk about fibromyalgia too much. She was sick of it. So I gave her my number and email and told her she could contact me any time, but I wasn’t going to stop talking about it online. I ended up removing her from my social media accounts. (I told her I was doing this.) And encouraged her not to discourage other patients. Just because she doesn’t want to talk doesn’t mean that millions of other patients and advocates around the world should stop talking.
Communication is needed to get through painful times. Support is needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Talking to other people who understand what you’re going through is a huge plus for all of us.
You shouldn’t have to put a happy face on with loved ones and pretend like everything’s ok. Life with fibromyalgia is extremely painful and talking about it helps us process what is happening to us. It also helps us process the massive lifestyle changes that come from living with fibromyalgia.
Change your lifestyle and change any aspect of it that causes extra stress or fatigue. These are my top tips for living with fibromyalgia.
Do you have any tips for living with fibromyalgia that you’d like to add?