Creating A Fibromyalgia Coping Plan
While nearly everyday can be difficult for fibromyalgia sufferers, some days can be significantly worse than others. Some days the pain is so excruciating we can become completely incapacitated. We often to refer to these as our bad days or flare up days. Being prepared for the inevitable bad day is a must for fibromyalgia sufferers.
One of best ways to prepare for bad days is to create a “thriving plan”. The purpose of a thriving plan is to give you a concrete plan of action for coping with the pain and thriving on days when the pain is so bad that it is difficult to think clearly. Though it may not eliminate the pain, it will give you a sense of control and afford you a better chance at thriving despite the pain.
So how do you create a thriving plan? We suggest this simple three-fold approach:
1. Make A List of Do’s
Write down a list of ideas for how to manage the pain. This could include methods that have worked for you in the past or new methods you haven’t tried but show promise. Different methods work for different people, but here are a few common coping strategies that have worked for our patients:
- Relax in a hot bath or shower
- Breathing exercises to promote relaxation
- Distractions to take mind off the pain – i.e. movie, book, music, conversations with friends or loved ones
- Prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers
- Turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts
- Ask others for help
There are, of course, countless strategies for coping with the pain. Create a list of the ones you think will work for you and modify the list as you figure out which ones do and which ones don’t. Keep this list easily accessible so that on days when the pain flares up you can easily find it.
2. Make A List of Don’ts
Even on bad days we can tend to push ourselves beyond our limits, thereby worsening the pain. Make a list of any regular activities or things you do that might exacerbate the pain even more on bad days. There will, of course, be things that make the pain worse that you still may be required to do (i.e. go to work), but highlight the activities that you can sacrifice. On bad days, reference the list and remind yourself that you can go without doing them that day.
Look for ways to reduce the amount of effort required to do everyday activities on bad days. For example, stock up on easy-to-prepare meals to limit the amount of time and stress required for prepping food for yourself or your family on bad days. Keep disposable kitchen utensils on hand to reduce the cleanup time required.
Finding ways to reduce the effort required on your part will not only protect you from unnecessary physical labor but it can also reduce your stress and anxiety levels, thereby reducing the risk of more pain and aggravation.
Now you’re ready to create your own thriving plan! Let us know what strategies you employ and which ones work for you. Post a comment below or share your story on our Facebook Page.