Things that I have discovered help me deal with my Fibromyalgia

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Living with Fibromyalgia is challenging.

We really need researchers to get with it and give this debilitating condition, that seems to progress based on several factors, the attention, and time, it will require to fully discover how Fibro works, and the best ways to treat the symptoms. Doctors have just been treating the symptoms, thinking that will be sufficient to controlling the condition, but it isn’t working long-term.

In the past, the medical community tended to view Fibromyalgia as something they label people who have pain, sleep disorders, and other issues that they can’t find an explanation for. We just now seem to be getting to a point when some researchers are willing to say “Wait, there’s more to this,” than what they previously thought. Because of this, those currently living with Fibromyalgia are left having to turn to communities, filled with people dealing with the same symptoms and issues as we are, to find any relief from the pain, emotional turmoil, and other symptoms that plague us.

The list below includes the things that I have discovered help me deal with my Fibromyalgia, as long as I do them daily. I hope they can help someone else that’s living with this condition because it’s a struggle, and can be very lonely. People don’t understand how it affects us, and even when we try to explain, they just don’t get it.

They can’t imagine what it’s like to feel that way, yet still be functioning, so they think it must not be so bad. It is. It’s pretty awful, and it’s really confusing, because you have very little control over how you feel physically. If you feel like I do everyday, do yourself a favor and put these tips into effect to at least manage your Fibromyalgia to an extent.

There is no cure-all for this condition. These techniques aren’t intended to be seen as me saying anything even close to “Do these and it will fix you.” These will not fix you, but they may just help you cope with what you’re dealing with, and any relief is better than none, when you live how we do.

Also Read: Tips to household chores to avoid fibromyalgia flare 

 

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1. Allow someone to help you, and don’t stress about it.

I understand that’s easier said than done, but really try. Since we often have to fight feelings of worthlessness and feeling like a burden, this can be one of the hardest things for us to do. Knowing when to give in and ask for help can have a significant impact on how we feel in general. Not worrying about what others think, will also lessen your emotional stress. You are a fighter. You’re battling a condition people do not understand, nor can they even really imagine. Their thinking is irrelevant because they have no idea how it feels.

2. Make a sort of chart listing common activities you have to do in your life.

Assign a value to each activity based on how much effort it takes you to accomplish and the prep amd recovery time it will take before, and after. (I started out using a 5 point system. The hardest activities were 5’s and the easiest were 1’s.) Use this chart to help you determine the next tip, and also to help you figure out how each activity affects you.

3. Figure out what your body can handle on an average day.

Not a good day, not a bad day- but one of those in-between type of days that are how most of us spend our time. Once you know this, you’re better able to gauge what activities you can manage before needing to stop, or better able to predict what you’ll be able to fit into a specific time period.

4. Prepare before activities to minimize their impact on your body.

I have actually gone so far as to take a scheduling calendar and shaded out times before, and after, activities to help me visually see how I need to do self-care. My body isn’t how it used to be, and I sometimes have a hard time remembering, and accepting that fact.

5. Give yourself adequate time, based on YOUR body, to recover from each task or event.

Recovering is just as important as preparing. This requires time, which means fitting less activities in during the day, so it’s a hard thing for many of us to do, but it’s necessary. If we don’t take the time to do these things, we hurt ourselves more, and then we can do even less. Creating a calendar like the one I mentioned before can be helpful with both the preparing and recovering aspects. When you’re able to see how much time your body needs to recover, it’s sometimes easier to accept.

6. Start systematically figuring out what foods are contributing to your symptoms, and keep track of your pain levels and other symptoms (many already do this last part with a pain journal.)

Make a list of foods you think may be affecting you, and start eliminating them, one by one. Everyday, when doing your daily routine, write down any changes you’re noticing from the most recent food eliminated. My own research has convinced me that food absolutely can have an impact on how we feel. I spent a solid couple of years systematically eliminating foods from my diet. In the beginning, it was harder to tell which foods were causing what symptoms, but the more I eliminated, the easier it became to recognize exactly what effects each food causes. I personally have to avoid all dairy, many strong spices, caffeine, and drinking anything that isn’t clear (because of my kidneys.) I also extremely limit bread, red meat, grease, red sauces and vegetables, and processed foods. I stick with lean grilled meats, and veggies, and fruits that aren’t too hard on me. There are a ton of books and sites available about anti-inflammatory diets. I suggest looking at those to get an idea of which foods to start eliminating.

 

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7. Decide on a light stretching regimen you can handle every single day.

It needs to be very easy on your body, but still help to move the muscles so they don’t get damage from atrophy. This matters even more during times you aren’t able to get out and do things. That’s why you want it to be light enough to do no matter if you’re having a good or bad day. For me, it’s easiest to do this in increments of 5-10 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day. I do light stretching, walk in place, and some arm lifts with a little 2.5 lb weight. It’s not much, but it’s movement, and movement DOES help, in moderation. In our cases, too much can seriously hurt us, so exercising can be challenging. I view movement and exercising as two different worlds. I don’t have the energy or ability to withstand the pain to exercise, but I do have the ability, and force myself to create the energy, to make myself move at least a little everyday, because the effects of only being sedentary can be much worse.

8. Just like you should create a routine and move everyday, you also have to set aside some time for self-care, every single day.

This can include several things. Obviously, you want to take care of yourself physically. This includes the stretching, taking medications, taking note of new symptoms, etc., that are covered elsewhere, but- it also includes taking care of yourself mentally. If you have anxiety disorder, or any other mental illness, it’s even more important to make sure you’re including things to relieve your stress and manage your anxiety. Stress can significantly impact your body physically, especially when you have chronic conditions. Develop a daily stress or anxiety management routine that you can include in your daily self-care regimen.

9. Try to research some new aspect everyday to expand your knowledge about Fibromyalgia.

It could be some new treatment someone mentioned, or a symptom that you hadn’t realized had anything to do with Fibro. The more knowledge you have about it, the better you can understand things that are happening to you, and which things you need to discuss with your doctor. Make sure you aren’t just taking one-off situations and focusing on them. When you’re researching, don’t let it send you into paranoid mode where you fixate on things. That isn’t healthy. Make sure, if you’re reading a personal experience, that you also seek out others on the same subject in order to get a more diverse view on the issue. When reading informative articles, you want to at least make sure the author has experience with that subject, or it’s from an officially credentialed source. Reading articles with outlandish headlines about Fibromyalgia, without further looking into where the information is coming from, only adds to the confusion, and can overwhelm you with fear. Please make sure that what you’re reading can be backed up with evidence.

10. Make taking your medications at the same exact times everyday (unless otherwise directed by your doctor,) part of your routine.

Many of you probably already try to do this, but if you don’t, or maybe aren’t so great at it- you really should try. Most medications work the best when kept at constant, consistent levels. This means it can be really important to take them on a schedule. You should also be researching your medications when you’re learning about Fibromyalgia every day. Being familiar with what side effects to expect, can actually help to make them less severe in some people, and also helps you know when something is being caused by your medications.

When you have a chronic illness, taking the time to do these things can really help with your quality of life. When you develop a routine that helps you manage your illnesses, and stick to it daily, it’s more likely to be effective in helping you control it- at least to the extent it’s able to be controlled.

Nothing will make everything all better- that’s why it’s a chronic illness– but, we can take some measures to gain some control, and give ourselves the best chance at feeling as good as we’re capable of. I hope these things I do to manage my Fibromyalgia will also help you gain as much control as possible over yours.

Also Read:

Ways to offer help to someone with chronic illness

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