Living with a chronic invisible illness like fibromyalgia can be a daily challenge. The key to living well includes finding ways to maintain your lifestyle, making adjustments, and, most importantly, taking care of yourself and listening to your body.
Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with fibromyalgia for years, here are 10 tips and tricks that can help you live well with fibromyalgia.
#1 Acceptance: Most anyone, when first diagnosed with a chronic illness, goes through a grieving period. You think about the things you have to give up, how your life will now be different, and miss all of the things you “used” to do.
The first step in living a good life in spite of your illness is to find acceptance. Realize that yes, you will have to make some adjustments in your life, but there are a lot of things you still can do, in moderation. Understand your life is not over, it’s still worth living, and you can still be happy.
#2 Balance: Know what your limits are. Unfortunately, you may have to say “no” sometimes to certain things as a way to maintain a sense of balance in your life. If you have a demanding job, you might want to consider changing professions, reducing hours, or even taking some of your work home.
#3 Relaxation and Meditation: No this is not some woo-woo, hippy-dippy mumbo-jumbo. Taking time for yourself is not something that “would be nice” when living with a chronic illness. Taking time to relax is essential! There is no way around it: you have to make time to allow your body to recharge. Meditation and relaxation benefit you, not only on a physical level but as a way to help maintain your mental health as well.
#4 Give Back: Finding ways to help others through your pain and struggles helps you find purpose and understanding. It’s easy to get caught up in the “why me?” mentality of illness. (Believe me, I’ve been through all of the emotions surrounding this illness.)
#5 Sleep: Sleeping well and being well-rested are essential when your body is dealing with chronic stress, which seems to follow chronic illness. It is important to listen to your body, and to know your limits. Don’t stay up late and burn the candle at both ends.
#6 Support: Don’t try to fight this battle alone. Reach out and find support. Let your friends and family know what you are dealing with, and how they can help. Are you asking for the help you need? Don’t be afraid to ask.
#7 Get Outside: Vitamin D has been shown to be a tremendous help for fibromyalgia patients. Getting outside in the sun and going for a walk, doing some light gardening, or even just basking in the warm sunshine is sure to relax you and recharge your spirit. I always look forward to warm, sunny days because my symptoms, like aches and muscle pain, ease when I get out in the sun.
#8 Listen: It is important to listen to your body, only you know you feel. Your body will tell you when something’s not right. Just like if you go to the gym and workout hard after not working out in a long time, your body’s response will be muscle pain. If you overdo it when you have fibromyalgia, the effect on your body is much more pronounced and extreme. If you feel a fibro flare coming, do what you can to take a step back, make adjustments and prepare.
#9 Unplug: Technology is something I love, and hate. It is so convenient to turn to Google for life’s most important problems, like “What are the Spring must-have fashion trends?” Just kidding. Or “What is in store for Capricorn for the month of April?” In all seriousness, we all need to take a step back from technology, whether we have a chronic illness or not.
#10 Do What Makes You Happy: Find a hobby. Spend time with the people you love. Taking time and finding ways to make your own sense of peace and happiness can help you get through the day-to-day mundane struggle of chronic illness.