If you're living with fibromyalgia, you know that every day is a new challenge. On the outside, you may look healthy and as if you're living well. But in reality, you might be suffering from severe pain, chronic fatigue, and emotional anguish.
There's so much to think about – from managing your symptoms to finding ways to cope to simply getting through the day.
I've put together this list of 12 essential tips for living with fibromyalgia. I hope these tips will help make your life a little bit easier.
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1. SEEK OUT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS WHO UNDERSTAND FIBROMYALGIA
Persist until you find a doctor that meets your needs and provides you with the time and support you need in each appointment. Because fibro symptoms vary in type and severity from person to person, you must find the right kind of specialist for your symptoms to ensure you get the right treatment plan and the guidance you need.
2. RESEARCH TREATMENTS
As you explore how to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms best, it's also crucial to research treatments and scientific findings related to fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and any other symptoms you experience.
There is much debate about what causes fibromyalgia and, sadly, no cure. You need to learn about all your fibromyalgia symptoms and explore a range of treatments to find what works best for you.
Remember that any pain reduction therapy or symptom treatments that can improve life quality should be investigated and given a chance to work.
3. SET REALISTIC GOALS
Setting realistic fibromyalgia wellness goals can help you feel accomplished and stay motivated. However, accepting your fibro body and your current abilities can be challenging.
But setting unrealistically high expectations can lead to harsh self-judgment, poor self-care, and even depression and anxiety.
One of the biggest challenges of a fibromyalgia diagnosis is learning to pace ourselves. Never push yourself beyond what you are physically capable of, do what you can, and appreciate those abilities. Pushing yourself too much can end in a fibro flare-up.
4. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE
Spend time with positive, supportive, and understanding people who give you the emotional support you need.
Avoid negative people who doubt your symptoms and are not supportive; their negativity can be like poison damaging your mood, outlook, and self-esteem.
If you don't have these people, attend a support group or connect online with supportive fibromyalgia communities.
Support groups are places where you can learn more about fibro and living with a chronic illness and give back to others by sharing the insights you have gained through your own experience.
Even if supportive family and friends surround you, it can be a relief to connect with others with fibromyalgia and know they go through the same thing.
5. BE VIGILANT ABOUT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
If you feel you have symptoms of depression, which is common among people with fibromyalgia, seek help from a qualified professional.
6. TALK, TALK, & TALK SOME MORE
Express all your feelings to a trusted friend or family member, especially your anger, frustrations, anxiety, and fears. Consider talking to a counselor or therapist if you don't have anyone to hear you express your struggles with chronic illness.
In the USA, you can text "CARE" to 202-596-6520 and connect with The Chronic Illness Hotline, a mental health texting service for chronically ill people.
Cry when you need to. Crying is an excellent release of emotion that can cause increased tension. Unfortunately, this tension can exacerbate your fibromyalgia muscle pain and deepen your fatigue.
It's okay to take a moment to mourn your old life and then take time to plan out your new life.
7. MINIMIZE STRESS
Eliminate all possible sources of stress and utilize stress-reducing activities. For example, meditation, Tai Chi, Yoga, good quality sleep, low-stress work, happy relationships, and many other actions can help reduce stress to improve your condition and quality of life.
8. REWRITE YOUR LIFE
If you once ran marathons, it might be time to let that go and design a less demanding exercise plan to achieve and stick with those goals.
But, on the other hand, you might have to change jobs or get more help with the kids than you used to.
It's okay; making these changes is all part of the process of acceptance of your life with fibromyalgia.
9. ASK FOR HELP
It's essential not to let fear, anxiety, or pride stand in getting as much help as you need, no matter the circumstances.
Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood chronic illness by the wider community and medical professionals, but you have every right to ask for and get the help you need.
Look for services available to you; depending on where you live, you may be able to obtain a disability sign for your car, discounted public transport fare, and a disability card.
Also, don't hesitate to call your local supermarket and ask what discounts they offer on home delivery for people with disabilities.
Museums & Art exhibits also often provide discounts for those that carry a disability card. If you are isolated or stuck in a low mood, it might help you get out to a museum or art show, even if only briefly.
10. LOOK FOR SILVER LININGS
Look for hope, joy, and positivity by practicing gratitude and mindfulness. Life presents us with harsh circumstances living with fibromyalgia, but we can often find something positive in our day if we look hard.
For example, perhaps you have made a new friend in a support group that you can relate to and discuss your experience with fibromyalgia, or you have a pet by your side no matter how bleak your day.
Watch a stand-up comedy show. If you can't get to a live performance, you can find shows on Netflix and YouTube to suit every sense of humor.
Watch reruns of any old favorite comedy sitcom like Friends, Seinfeld, go back further, M.A.S.H., or I Love Lucy.
Whatever tickles your funny bone. Escape the trenches of your battle with fibromyalgia whenever you can.
12. FIND YOUR STRENGTH
You may not be as powerless as you may believe. While you may have lost power over some of your physical abilities or perhaps how others view you, you have control over how you view yourself.
You are stronger than you know. You live dealing with a complex condition and bravely step into the next day.
Revel in your strength, resolve, and start seeing your coping ability as a positive aspect of this condition. Be proud that you are resilient and can handle anything life throws you.
Even when you feel you can't cope, know you are here, and you are a FIBRO WARRIOR! So keep going, keep working towards living better with fibromyalgia.