If you have fibromyalgia, you know all too well how it affects your body and mind. When you have a flare-up, your body feels pain, which can be discouraging. And understandably, your mind can get into a depressed state, which is never enjoyable.
Fortunately, there are a variety of things you can do to help you cope in addition to your regular pain regimen. And of course, if you aren’t already, it’s likely a good idea to see a pain doctor to help you manage your pain when these natural coping strategies just won’t do.
1. Keep a Journal
Keep a journal about what you believe might have triggered your latest flare-up. By documenting your disease, you can better understand it. When you have a fibromyalgia flare-up, think about if you’ve recently changed your diet, had trouble sleeping, had unusual stress or changed your schedule. Keeping track of what you think might have caused your most recent flare-up could give you insight into possibly preventing the next one.
2. Reduce Your Stress Immediately
The minute you have a flare-up, you need to do whatever you have to do to reduce your stress. If you have a non-essential appointment planned, cancel it. If you promised to volunteer at your child’s school the next day, call and cancel. If you usually cook dinner or clean the house on Wednesday, don’t hesitate to clean the house when you’re feeling better and order dinner in.
3. Focus on Activities You Like to Do
Avoid sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. If you do, you’ll inevitably feel much worse than you did before — at least mentally. Instead, focus on things you like to do that don’t make you overly tired or exacerbate your pain. For example, watch some of your favorite, upbeat movies. Or read that book you’ve been wanting to start for ages. Sit on your patio and drink a cup of your favorite tea. Or take a scenic drive and have a picnic.
4. Use Relaxation Techniques
If you’ve never really used relaxation techniques before, it’s time to consider starting. You should practice these techniques daily — not just when you have a fibromyalgia flare-up. Here are some to consider:
• Meditation: Meditation can help you experience a sense of calm, erase anxiety and help relax your muscles. There are plenty of free mediation exercises you can find online. And there are also meditation apps that you can download on your smartphone, such as Calm, which you can try for free.
• Deep Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing can be an excellent way to relax. You should plan to practice these types of exercises for at least 10 minutes for the most beneficial effect.
• Yoga: Yoga is another way to achieve relaxation, but you may or may not enjoy it while experiencing a flare-up. Try it and see. If you don’t feel comfortable completing a session, save it for a time when you’re feeling more energetic.
• Massage: If you enjoy getting massages, don’t hold back just because you’ve had a flare-up. Instead, schedule one as soon as possible. Studies have shown that sufferers of fibromyalgia can benefit.
• Prayer: If your religion and prayer bring you comfort, then praying when you are feeling badly may lift you up and help you feel better.
• Positive Visualization: Just like you can find plenty of free meditation exercises online, you can also find plenty of free positive visualization techniques online that can help you relax. Positive visualization techniques include thinking of a wonderful and relaxing place in your mind and imagining you are there. For example, you might be lounging in a hammock on a private beach or sitting on the front porch of a cabin with a beautiful mountain view.
5. Call in a Favor or Two
If putting off tasks you usually do increases your stress, enlist other people to help you. For example, if you feel bad about not cooking dinner, ask your spouse or children to help out. If household chores must get done, again, ask the other people in your family to pitch in. And if you have things you’ve committed to do outside the home, ask a close friend if they can fill in for you.
6. Make Sure You’re Getting Good Quality Sleep
Whether you know it or not, your sleep posture is important. And to achieve the proper sleep posture, a few main elements must be in place. First off, you’ll need to make sure you have a large enough bed and a comfortable enough mattress that will allow you to be able to get as comfortable as possible, fall asleep and stay asleep.
Your pillow is also important in the quality of your sleep. Do you ever have neck pain when you wake up? Do you find yourself trying to make your pillow more comfortable? If the answer is yes to either question, it’s likely time to invest in a new pillow.