Updated: Sep 27
When you suffer from chronic illnesses, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, one of the most significant challenges we have to learn is to pace ourselves and rest when needed. Learning to set boundaries with others' obligations or requests to help us prevent exacerbating our symptoms can be incredibly difficult. In this post, you'll discover how it can be the simple decisions we make that play the most significant part in our self-care practice.
If you agree to everything, saying no sometimes can be the best thing to learn to do. It can be merely 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 always thinks of ways to please others, it can sometimes be tough to hold space for yourself. For so many people, saying no feels like a confrontation, and it merely makes them feel very uneasy and often comes paired with a feeling of guilt. 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 prioritize 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 essential 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 feel 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 a situation where your Fibromyalgia symptoms may worsen because of who they are 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. It will give you the ability to say a soft no but still can 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 complicated. If you know it’s a hard no; then you can contact them and let them know that you won’t be able to when the request is less fresh.
3. Let your life keep you busy
If you feel like you aren’t a good friend and you’re still feeling sort of guilty, then you can fill your time with the things that you need to get done in your life, your home, or your health. Devote time to ensure that you are moving forward in treating your fibromyalgia symptoms and ticking practices to try off your list. It can help also lower your stress level as you gain better control over your symptoms.
4. Suggest another capable person
If you feel comfortable, try to find another person to make the request instead. It can be beneficial when it comes to requests related to your business and skilled work. If someone wants you to do a job for free or at 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 needed to help organize a function, host a dinner, and suggest 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 understand or respect your limits, you may need to utilize the first tip and say no.
Read next: Mindfulness Therapy For Fibromyalgia