Life with Fibromyalgia
Life with fibromyalgia (FMS) is kind of like a balancing act. One the one hand, you have all these responsibilities and goals that you need and want to do while on the other hand, you have all these symptoms that debilitate you from achieving your responsibilities and goals. The key to success is to find the balance that was lost because of fibromyalgia. It may mean you have to change your mindset regarding responsibilities and goals. You may need to focus on what your body needs one day in order to feel better the next day. With this in mind, here are a few tips to help you gain a new perspective on your life with FMS.
Tip #1 – Think About Your Health
I know this sounds a bit selfish but if you think about yourself and your health first, you will actually be able to help your family and keep your responsibilities. That may mean lying in bed for the day with a good book or enjoying a DVD. It is not being selfish to care for your needs. In doing so, you will find that you will be able to help others because you will feel better.
Tip #2 – Set Limits on What you do
Another way to help you succeed with FMS is to set some limits on your activities. We all want to be everything to everyone and those with fibromyalgia tend to overdo in this area. If you set limits on yourself, then your symptoms won’t set limits on you. Here are some ways to help in this area.
- Keep options open – Don’t say “yes” to anything right off the bat. If you get an invitation to do something, tell the person you would like to think about it. Get back with them 24-48 hours of the activity and that way, if you can’t do it, you won’t feel put on the spot.
- Cancelling is O.K. – If you are unable to do an activity with someone, reschedule. There will be other times when you will feel better and be able to participate.
- Plan activities when you feel best – For many people with fybromyalgia, the best times seem to be between 10a.m. and 3p.m. but it may be different for you.
- Keep a FMS journal – If you keep a record of your activities, meal times, sleep times, and how you feel each day, you will be able to pinpoint the cause of your fybromyalgia flare-ups.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate! – When you feel bad, delegate responsibilities to your spouse or other family members to do activities you normally do like cleaning and cooking.
- Take a break – If you have been active in organizations or committees, consider taking a break in the action so you can focus on taking care of yourself.
- Entertain outside or inside – Instead of cooking and inviting company to your home, make reservations at a restaurant to entertain, order in, or have a pot-luck supper where everyone brings a dish to share.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – Most people will go out of their way to help if you ask but you need to let them know what you would like them to do.
Tip #3 – Don’t Forget to Smell the Roses
Even though people with fibromyalgia have responsibilities, they need to remember to enjoy themselves too. Many times, doing things that they enjoy will actually help them feel better. Things like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or talking with friends will actually lift their spirits.
Sometimes, patients are afraid to tackle an activity for fear of symptom flare-ups and it is good to be cautious. However, don’t be afraid to try something new, just prepare ahead of time to compensate for any reactions that could happen. For example, if you were to go on an outing with a friend, make sure to use the next day as a recuperation day. This works well for vacations as well. Take a day to rest before the trip and a day or two to recuperate after the vacation.
Tip #4 – Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
Since one of the symptoms of FMS is sleep problems, anything that is done in this area will help improve your quality of life. First of all, have a regular bedtime and wakeup schedule. This means you need to discipline yourself to set a definite time when you sleep and the time you wake up. Also, some people find a 20-30 minute nap during the day very refreshing. Just don’t nap longer than that and not too late in the afternoon. Lastly, have dinner between 5-7p.m. so your body will have plenty of time to digest the meal and not keep you awake at bedtime.
Life with fibromyalgia can be a challenge but there are ways to make it a success. Concentrate on what you can do and not on what you can’t do. A positive attitude goes a long way towards getting over the fibromyalgia hump. By listening to your body, modifying your activities, and enjoying things you like to do, you will achieve your goals and find the balance with FMS.