Fibromyalgia affects individuals differently. You can actively help to reduce your symptoms. Here are some tips to minimize its potential effects on your daily life.
EXERCISE – Overall physical deconditioning is very common and can cause pain due to increased joint stiffness and muscle weakness. Research has shown that movement is necessary. The following tips can help you get started on the right path!
- Start slowly. If you haven’t been exercising regularly,start with 5 – 10 minutes of light exercise and gradually increase time and intensity in order to build strength and avoid post-exercise soreness.
- Stretch daily, especially before exercise. Stretching after exercise can also help you feel better.
- Moderate aerobic activity is highly recommended – it can help improve your mood and sleep, and reduce physical symptoms.
- Post-exercise soreness is a normal part of the process and will decrease over time.
SLEEP -Pain causes poor sleep and poor sleep can cause pain. Our bodies are able to heal better when we are getting adequate sleep. Here are some tips for better sleep:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time – even on weekends. Our bodies need that consistency.
- Get as much natural light as you can in the AM. Spend more time outside,especially in the late afternoon and evening. Our brains respond to the cycle of the sun, which regulates our sleep cycle.
- Naps can be helpful to get through the day, but try to avoid a nap that is longer than 45 minutes and don’t take a nap after 3 PM.
- Avoid caffeine as much as possible, but especially within 7 hours of bedtime!
- More physical activity and exercise -especially in the afternoon – helps you sleep more deeply. Be careful not to exercise too closely before bedtime. Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality.
- Alcohol and nicotine can negatively affect our sleep cycle. A glass of wine may make you fall asleep more quickly, but as soon as your blood alcohol level drops, you may find yourself wide awake.
- Modify your bedroom: Keep the room cool. When the room is too warm, we’re more apt to not sleep as deeply and arouse easier. Minimize light and sound. Sometimes even the light of the alarm clock can be too much! Invest in yourself with really comfortable pillows, bed linens and pajamas.
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine – and stick to it every night – so that your body knows that it’s time to sleep. Listen to soft music, spend a few minutes breathing deeply or doing whatever works for you!
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF EMOTIONALLY – It is essential to develop coping methods to deal with the psychological stressors of life. Fibromyalgia can be hard for family and friends to understand. It is possible that they may not fully comprehend what you are going through.
- Learn more about fibromyalgia and how you can educate your friends and family. A few helpful websites include:
Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.com/health/fibromyalgia/DS00079
National Fibromyalgia Association: www.fmaware.org
American Chronic Pain Association: www.theacpa.org
- Consider an online or in-person support group.
- Discover ways to manage stress, such as meditation and visualization exercises.
- Explore cognitive behavioral therapy with a mental health practitioner. It can help you see how your thoughts and interpretations affect how you feel.
- Take some time every day to think about the positive aspects of your life.