Coping With Fybromyalgia
Fybromyalgia (FMS) is a very complicated syndrome characterized by wide-spread pain, fatigue, and a number of other symptoms that can be completely debilitating. Those who suffer from this disease can find themselves at a loss of what to do to help themselves. Many times, medications, doctors, and other treatments just don’t seem to work against the chronic symptoms. But coping is important to learn in order to improve your mood, mind, and body. There are several things that need to be addressed so your life will not be affected as much.
What about Stress in Your Life?
There is a lot of debate whether stress plays an important role in symptom flare-ups. Many people with FMS report feeling panicky, anxious, and nervous when flare-ups occur. Many experts feel that when patients reduce the amount of stress in their lives, the symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and depression are also reduced. Their sleep is improved, their minds can relax, and the once immobilizing symptoms that plagued them subside, improving their quality of life.
One way to reduce stress from your life is to temper your emotions when life’s problems occur. In other words, don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill. Many times, patients will exaggerate the seriousness of life’s little problems. When you react to situations as if they were life and death situations, your body also reacts by increasing adrenalin which can cause symptom flare-ups. Instead of seeing every crisis as “horrible,” learn to view life’s interruptions as “inconvenient, but tolerable.” You will find that when you see life as something that you can easily handle, you will not feel overpowered when trouble comes.
Make Workplace Modifications
If you are working full or part time, workplace modifications will help you cope with your syndrome. If your employer is willing, ask to create a flexible work schedule so you can both come in later and leave later. Another way is to ask if you can work a couple of days from home where you can still work but have a bit more rest than at the place of work. Also, rearrange your work area to accommodate your disease and help lessen pain and stiffness from overexertion. Whatever modifications you make, avoid procrastination. Budget your time, follow your daily “to do” lists, and limit your outside commitments on work days.
Work to Improve Communication Skills
It is very important to have good communication skills with a disease like fybromyalgia. Open and honest communication helps decrease conflict between you and your spouse, family, friends, and co-workers. Many times, patients feel angry or resentful over having unending pain and fatigue. The mental distraction can hinder productive communication. If you feel overwhelmed by the symptoms of FMS, a counseling session may help you develop appropriate and functional communication strategies to deal with your disease and other issues in your life.
Learn to Say “No”
A person who wants to help others in commendable but involving yourself in too many outside commitments is a recipe for disaster. Being all things to all people will leave you feeling resentful, tired, and depressed. You need to set personal limitations on your outside commitments. A simple way to allow this is not to agree to anything until you have had time to think things through. Check your calendar. Involve family or close friends who know your plight to give advice on the situation. Would another commitment stop you from getting the rest, exercise, and relaxation you need to feel well? Would it interfere with the priorities that are high on your list? All these need to be considered before committing to anything. Sometimes a firm stand needs to be taken: say “no” and mean it.
Keep a Daily Journal
Daily journaling can help in many instances. It can help you identify certain activities, foods, and other lifestyle routines that may be associated with symptom flare-ups. It can also help your doctor analyze whether certain foods trigger your symptoms. There are numerous ways in which a daily journal can help with your fybromyalgia.
Warm Water Helps
Soaking in a warm bath or sauna helps relax the body. This is very beneficial for pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms. You can even add some stress relieving aromas to the water like lavender to help with symptoms. Personally, one of my favorite ways to de-stress is to use candlelight, soft music, and aromatic bubble baths to relieve stress and pain.
Though your body may not really want to move when in pain, gentle stretches and exercise is one of the best ways to help reduce pain and muscle stiffness. Start slowly and work up endurance and frequency. You may only be able to do a few minutes’ worth of stretches. That is O.K. Take as much time as you need. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Over time, you will see progress. In fact, much research has been done with exercise and FMS. The results indicate that gentle stretches and low-impact aerobic exercise actually decrease pain symptoms in FMS patients. Activities like swimming, yoga, and tai chi are good examples of exercise that helps patients.
Coping with fybromyalgia can be difficult but learning to cope is essential for your healing. There are ways to help learn how to deal with this syndrome. Taking care of yourself is number one. Learning how to de-stress, to say “no”, and to temper your emotions will help. Using techniques like exercise, warm baths, and journaling will help you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Finally, stay positive in your attitudes. You will find the ways to improve your symptoms and cope with fybromyalgia.