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Living with the symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic, widespread pain isn't easy nor is it comfortable. One day you may feel great and the next awful – fibromyalgia is just unpredictable. While fibromyalgia may impact your daily lifestyle, it shouldn't define you.
If you're looking to improve your overall quality of life with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, you can easily adopt a few lifestyle changes to help improve fibromyalgia symptoms like fatigue, trouble thinking (fibro fog), poor sleep, depression and/or anxiety.
Below are several tips help make living with fibromyalgia and chronic pain a little easier (and hopefully a little more comfortable).
As you already know, fibromyalgia is an unpredictable condition. You may find yourself in more pain or more exhausted than usual at times. This is where planning and pacing come in.
Before you go to bed, decide on what activities or events you need to fit into the next day. For example, If you need to clean or exercise, set some time out – it can be for 15 minutes or just 30 minutes. By planning ahead each day for just a few moments before bed, you'll be ready to take on the next day.
You can also sort by priority if time management is not your thing. For example, you know your to-do list is long, but there's only so much you can do in a day (and what your fibromyalgia will allow you to do), instead pick the activities that you know that need to be done and focus on completing those first before you go on to the next task.
Lastly, pace yourself and schedule your activities between periods of rest. It's completely okay to break up activities into smaller parts if you need to. Also, if you don’t achieve all that you wanted to, be easy on yourself and don't stress about it. You did your best, and you should be proud of that.
Stress can make fibromyalgia or chronic pain worse, and stress relief and relaxation techniques may help to manage stress and anxiety and help with sleep.
There are numerous different relaxation techniques, and many of these methods work better for different people. At first, you may need to experiment to discover what type of relaxation methods work for you.
For example, some people with chronic pain find that practicing deep breathing exercises help to reduce anxiety and promote better sleep, while others find that light stretching helps with fatigue and manages stress.
While relaxation and stress relief techniques aren't limited to deep breathing exercises and light stretching, you may also consider yoga, low-impact exercises (i.e., walking or biking), guided meditation, reading, crafts or tending to a hobby.
Also, don't be afraid to reach out to online groups or communities about what their stress relief and relaxation methods are!
It can be challenging to find the motivation to exercise when you are suffering from chronic pain. Studies have shown that exercise benefits people living with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. The benefits of exercise found that it leads to increased energy levels, improved sleep, reduced fatigue and higher fitness.
Excellent exercises for people with chronic pain are low-impact exercises. Low-impact activities include walking, cycling, the stairs, strength training, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, yoga, pilates, swimming, water aerobics, and dancing. While the list could go longer, these can be a starting point in finding the right exercise for you and one that you will enjoy.
If you want to begin an exercise routine, start gently and slowly, learn your limits, and don’t push yourself too hard because that can make your pain and fatigue worse. If you overdo it, it's important to take a rest day and try again when your body is feeling up to it.
People with chronic pain and fibromyalgia usually have difficulty falling or staying asleep due to muscle pain and tenderness, and there's only so much you can do about the symptoms.
One lifestyle habit that may help in managing these nighttime symptoms is to practice healthy sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene includes going to bed at the same time every night, cutting back on caffeine before bedtime, removing all electronics from the room (or turning them off two hours before bed), and setting your bedroom to be as dark and relaxing and not too hot or cold.
Living with chronic pain and fibromyalgia can be tricky, but it's easier to maintain better day-to-day functioning when you feel empowered and in control of your condition.
By adding these tips above to your day-to-day life, from planning your day, resting and exercising, to developing healthy habits, you can feel more in control over your fibromyalgia and chronic pain management.
NewLifeOutlook aims to empower people living with chronic mental and physical health conditions, encouraging them to embrace a positive outlook despite unfortunate circumstances.
Our articles are full of practical advice from people who have firsthand experience of fibromyalgia and chronic pain, and as a result truly understand what our readers are going through, and our community members are welcoming, understanding and supportive.