FYBROMYALGIA AND THE WORKPLACE
Anyone who suffers from fybromyalgia knows that the pain, stiffness, and fatigue are hard to handle during the day, especially at the workplace. Many sufferers feel as if they are constantly coming down with flu-type symptoms. This could be devastating for the worker since it depletes valuable sick time and vacation time. But there are ten tips that you can apply to help yourself beat the effects of fybromyalgia at the workplace.
What you do the night before does have an impact the next day. However, sleep is one of the hardest things for a fybromyalgia patient to get because of the muscle pain and stiffness. Stress from this restless activity can turn a peaceful night’s sleep into a fight for rest. Since sleep is one of the most important tools to managing fybromyalgia, getting this rest is paramount. One way to help with this is to have a regular bedtime schedule. If you go to bed around the same time each night, your body develops a natural sleep/wake pattern or rhythm. This will help establish the necessary eight hours of good rest each night.
DRESS FOR THE OFFICE CLIMATE
When you are cold, the pain and stiffness from fybromyalgia can be aggravated. Be sure to keep a sweater or wrap available at the office for days where you feel cold or the air conditioning seems cooler than normal. In fact, dress in layers so that whatever the temperature is, you can feel comfortable.
CUSHION THE FEET
Proper footwear can also help the comfort level at work. Have a pair of sneakers or similar shoes under your desk and slip into them whenever you can. The flatness and support will keep your feet comfortable and warm. If you have to move from spot to spot, ballet flats have a nice support in them and they make you appear trendy while keeping the comfort level high. If you have to do a lot of standing in one spot, try “sit” breaks that help with the legs and back or get an anti-fatigue mat to stand on to absorb some of the shock by the extra layer of cushioning.
TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
If you do a lot of sitting at your desk, try to take standing or movement breaks. This relieves the stiffness caused by staying in one position too long. Do not wait until you start experiencing pain. Stay flexible and limber. After sitting for 30 minutes (if you can), take a 20 minute break from the sitting. This is better than working for hours in the sitting position when you feel good, only to end up in a horizontal position for a day or two because you overdid it. Again, don’t wait until the stiffness starts, then it is too late. The muscles are already inflamed and pain is inevitable.
STRETCHING AND EXERCISING THE MUSCLES
Stretching the muscles will help relieve stiffness at work. You should gently stretch 3-4 times a day or whenever you feel stiff. There are also some yoga poses that are really great to help stretch tired and stiff muscles, and they do not take a lot of time to accomplish. One such pose is called the modified Dog pose. This yoga position uses a wall to help stretch out the back, core muscles, hips, and thighs. Here are the steps for this exercise:
- Start by facing a wall, standing about three feet away
- Stretch out your arms and lean toward the wall. Once your hands meet the wall slide them down about waist high with your torso parallel to the floor
- Slide your feet back so they are under your hips and form a 90 degree angle
- Push against the wall, stretch your back and breathe deeply. Hold long enough to take 1-2 slow, deep breaths.
MAKE YOUR OFFICE FYBRO FRIENDLY
Several modifications to the workspace will go a long way toward making your work area fybro friendly. If you have to use the phone a lot, use a headset to prevent neck strain and discomfort. Be sure your computer is directly in front of you and at eye level. Use a Styrofoam wedge or other lumbar support for the lower back to ease back stiffness while you sit. Also, keep both feet flat on the floor and have your work area at elbow height. Doing these little changes will make a difference for your body’s comfort and manageability of fybromyalgia at work.
I think this is self-explanatory. Learn to pace yourself so you can finish the day’s work successfully without pain and stiffness.
GET A GOOD START
Eating a good breakfast in the morning cannot be overstated. Learn to love lean protein, oatmeal, fresh fruit; all are part of a meal geared toward sustaining energy. Go easy on the caffeine, and remember to take those stretching breaks. These will help achieve your goal at work.
KEEP HEAT HANDY
Sometimes a sore muscle just can’t be helped. Apply a heat patch or some unscented heat salve to the area is possible. These can be done right there at the desk without much fuss. Even a heating pad kept in the desk drawer will provide some comfort from achy muscles.
WATCH YOUR STRESS LEVEL
Learn to control your stress. Use breathing exercises and relaxing techniques to control your reaction to changes in your work environment. Venting also seems to help. Tell a family member or a close friend what bothers you. Don’t bottle it up inside. Release the stress from an event.
Using these helpful hints will keep your fybromyalgia at bay and allow you to accomplish the goals you need to achieve in your workplace. So go ahead, start now to make your workplace a place where you can achieve your success.