If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you know how difficult it can be to manage the pain and fatigue of your condition. Here are six tips for preventing flares, so you can take a proactive stance against your illness.
Know Your Physical Limitations
An easy way to precipitate a fibromyalgia flare is to overdo it physically. Be realistic about the amount of activity you can engage in, and stop when you hit your boundaries. It can be hard to maintain cardiovascular health and weight with fibromyalgia. Find an exercise regimen that gets your heart rate up without leaving you in agony for days afterward. Some activities to try include:
- tai chi
- ballroom dancing
Don't be afraid to ask for help getting things done at home or work, and outsource things like heavy-duty cleaning and lawn mowing.
Stress is another cause of fibromyalgia flares, and many researchers believe long-term stress leads many people to develop fibromyalgia in the first place. Figure out what your particular stressors are, and work to reduce or eliminate them. For many fibromyalgia sufferers the big four are finances, work, family and health.
If sitting in traffic makes you tense, consider taking the bus or train to work. Sometimes seeing a financial planner can make you rest easier about money matters, so you can keep your stress level down and not lose sleep.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is another area that plagues fibromyalgia patients. First, go to bed early enough to get sufficient sleep, which may be more than the average person.
You also need to practice good sleep hygiene:
- No working in the bedroom--move your desk elsewhere or put it behind a screen at night.
- No laptops, tablets or cell phones in the bedroom.
- Limit or eliminate TV viewing in bed.
- Avoid caffeine after mid-morning and limit overall caffeine intake.
- Avoid excess alcohol. Although it initially makes you sleepy, it can cause you to wake in the middle of the night.
- Create a sleep environment that works for you, e.g., no bright lights, silence, white noise, pleasant aromas, etc.
Learn to Be Selfish
People fibromyalgia tend to be pleasers--they never want to say no to anyone. If you are going to manage your fibromyalgia, you need to feel okay about saying no sometimes.
Practice the same appropriate selfishness at work. If you have fibromyalgia, you may do better working from home, where you can set your own schedule and avoid the stresses of commuting and disagreeable coworkers.
Watch Your Diet
Your fibromylagia may improve on a certain diet. That diet can vary radically from person to person. If you're not sure what foods can induce a flare for you, keep a detailed food journal for a month or two. Overall, make sure to drink enough water, be careful about caffeine and alcohol consumption and limit processed and junk foods.
Find an Understanding Health Care Provider
There is still a lot that is unknown about fibromyalgia, and some health care providers may still be learning how to provide care for you. It is vital to find a practitioner who can help you manage your condition without being judgmental or implying "it's all in your head."
A good heath care provider for fibromyalgia will help connect you with a pain management center if your discomfort is severe enough. There, clinicians can suggest pain medications and alternative therapies that allow you to function even when your condition is at its worst. They can also help manage common comorbidities, such as arthritis, headaches and depression.
Fibromyalgia is a challenge, but it does not have to leave you incapable of functioning in the world. With attention to what makes your condition worse and the help of health care professionals experienced in pain management, you can stay one step ahead and live a full life. To learn more, contact a company like Illinois Pain Institute with any questions or concerns.