LIVING WITH FYBROMYALGIA
People with fybromyalgia live life day by day. They have good days where they can do most things they like or need to do. Of course, there are the bad days when just coping with everyday activities becomes an overwhelming chore. Many times these bad days are the result of overdoing it on the good ones. But life with fybromyalgia can be accomplished and there is hope for a full life. The key is listening to your body and being flexible with your plans. You might have to schedule a rest day in between active days. Sometimes, you might have to rearrange your day and put yourself first. Slowing down and doing less may allow you to do more. To find that balance, here are five strategies.
PUT YOURSELF FIRST
Those who suffer from fybromyalgia are so used to helping others that sometimes they do themselves a disservice. They take on too much. You have to put yourself first if you are going to succeed with fybromyalgia. This may mean lying in bed all day with a good book or going to a movie with a friend. It is not being selfish to take care of your own needs. When you do, you will find that you will be able to help others because you will feel better.
SET LIMITS ON YOURSELF
Another important point is to set limits on yourself. You may not be able to do everything you used to do and you have to come to terms with this and others need to know it too. Fybromyalgia is a legitimate chronic condition and you have the right to do what is necessary to take care of yourself. In light of this, try these tips in taking care of your own needs:
v Keep your options open – if you get an invitation to do something, tell the person you would be interested and 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.
v It is O.K. to cancel – 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.
v Keep a fybromyalgia 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.
v Delegate – When you feel bad, delegate responsibilities to your spouse or other family members to do activities you normally do like cleaning and cooking.
v 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.
v Entertain outside or inside – Instead of cooking and inviting company to your home, make reservations at a restaurant to entertain. If you have to be at home, order in or have a pot-luck supper where everyone brings a dish to share.
v 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.
v 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.
DO THINGS YOU ENJOY
Because people with fybromyalgia tend to do a lot for others, when it comes to doing something they like, they are usually too exhausted. But doing things that you enjoy will actually help you feel better. Things like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or talking with friends will actually lift your spirits.
Don’t always avoid things just because you are afraid it might cause a flare-up. Enjoy that party! Just prepare to rest the following day and think of a relaxing treatment that would help you if a flare-up does occur, like a warm bath. For many people (me included) social gatherings are very important to emotional well-being. Just prepare ahead. Always have back-up plans for the following day. Use this technique for vacations as well. Plan to take a day to rest before a vacation and a day or two after to recover.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep is very important so the body can recuperate. Those with fybromyalgia tend to have difficulty getting enough quality sleep. Anything you can do to help in this area will definitely result in a better life. Here are a few tips:
v Have a regular bedtime and wakeup schedule
v Take a 20-30 minute nap in the afternoon
v Eat dinner a few hours before bedtime, between 5-7p.m.
DON’T GIVE UP ON FEELING BETTER
Those with fybromyalgia will have good and bad days. The main focus should be on what you can do, not on what you cannot do. A positive attitude really does make a difference and if you learn to listen to your body and take proper care of yourself, you can life a full life and start to help in time.