When you suffer from chronic illness, such as fibromyalgia, and/or chronic fatigue syndrome one of the greatest challenges we have to learn is how to pace ourselves and take rest when we need to. Learning to set boundaries with obligations or requests of others to help us prevent exacerbating our symptoms can be incredibly difficult. In this blog I want to highlight how it can be the simple decisions we make that play the biggest part of our self-care practice.
If you are someone that agrees to everything, saying no sometimes can actually be the best thing for you to learn to do. This could simply be saying no to going to lunch with friends at work because you need that time to yourself to recharge, or saying no to something bigger that someone has asked of you, that you know will drain your energy.
If you’re the kind of person who is always thinking of ways to please others, it can sometimes be very difficult to hold space for yourself. For so many people, saying no feels like a confrontation, and it simply just makes them feel very uneasy and often comes paired with a feeling of guilt too. If this is a problem for you as well, then it's time to explore polite ways to turn people down so you can avoid these negative emotions and prioritise your health and get the rest you need.
1. Don’t Allow Relationships to Control You
Let's face the most challenging task first. When it’s important to say no, you should say no. If you are tired, in pain, need rest, and need time to yourself it's important to honor how you are feeling and put your needs as a priority. In doing so, you may avoid a Fibro Flare or recover faster from a flare-up. Allowing people close to you to pressure you into situation where your Fibromyalgia symptoms may worsen, just because of who they are to you is never good. Every move you make with another person is setting a precedent between both of you. If you set proper boundaries now, then later on you can be more confident that you will be able to gauge their level of urgency for assistance.
2. Refer to Your Calendar
A suitable way to bow out of a request is to let them know that you will consider it if your schedule allows. This gives you the ability to say a soft no, but still have the ability to change your mind later. That means that you now have control over whether or not they are likely to ask that sort of request again in the future without making it difficult. If you know it’s a hard no, then you can simply contact them and let them know that you won’t be able when the request is less fresh.
3. Let Your Life Keep You Busy
If you feel like you aren’t being a good friend and you’re still feeling sort of guilty, then you can actually fill your time with the things that you need to get done in your life, your home or for your health. Devote time to making sure that you are moving forward in your treatment of your fibromyalgia symptoms and that you are ticking practices to try off your list. This can help also lower your stress level as you gain better control over your symptoms. Find ideas of self care practices and treatments you can try to help improve your symptoms - 50 Ways To Improve Your Life When Living With Fibromyalgia.
4. Suggest Another Capable Person
If you feel comfortable, try to find another person to do the request instead. This can be especially useful when it comes to request related to your business and skilled work. If someone want you to do a job for free or a reduced price, referring another capable person lets your friend know that they can get the skilled work elsewhere, and this also gives them a chance to see the value of your time and expertise. In your personal life, an example might look like, gently explaining to a friend or relative that you don't have the energy resources that are needed to help organise a function, or host a dinner, and suggesting a mutual friend or another family member. If this is still too challenging for you, consider offering to do one particular task for the event, something you know you can accomplish without too much detriment to your energy or pain levels. Be honest about your limitations so that others can set their expectations accordingly. If someone doesn't show understanding or respect for your limitations then you may need to utilise Step 1. and say no.