Living with fibromyalgia can be a challenge, especially if you're someone who likes to stay active. Activities that used to be easy to do become much more challenging to do, and you will find that your energy level is much less than it used to be.
But it is possible to live an active lifestyle while managing your fibromyalgia. Here are 5 tips for doing just that.
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1. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO
Acceptance comes easier with awareness, so making a list of all you can do instead of focusing on what you cannot do is helpful.
2. LEARN HOW TO REST
If you are used to being very active and suddenly struck down by fibromyalgia, you may still be able to do some of the same activities you used to but may not be able to do them at the same pace.
For example, instead of exercising for thirty minutes straight in your exercise program, you may have to scale back to exercising ten minutes at a time, resting for a while before you return to exercising.
Listen to your level of pain and fatigue as guides to tell you that you need to rest a bit before returning to what you were doing.
3. SCALE BACK THE EXERCISE
If you are used to running marathons or even a 5k run, you may not be able to do those things immediately if you have fibromyalgia pain. Instead, you may have to scale back your activity level to include gentler exercises on your muscles and joints, like swimming or yoga.
Join a health club with a pool and participate in swimming or water aerobics. Exercising in water is a gentle form of exercise that will not be hard on your joints and will exercise your muscles much milder. Try to exercise in a pool with relatively warm water, as this will be soothing to your pain and make it easier to exercise.
4. GET PLENTY OF SLEEP
Even though many people with fibromyalgia complain that sleep is no longer restorative, you should try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
The sleep will hopefully allow your muscles to rest. When you wake up, do some gentle stretching exercises in bed to avoid the typical morning stiffness of people with fibromyalgia. If you have difficulty getting to sleep, use good sleep hygiene techniques.
Good sleep hygiene means sleeping in a dark and quiet room and going to bed simultaneously every night. If you need some noise, purchase a white noise machine to help lull you to sleep. Don’t drink alcohol or any beverages containing caffeine right before sleep, and don’t eat a big meal before trying to go to sleep.
5. DO EXERCISES THAT RELIEVE STRESS
Fibromyalgia may spur you to find ways of exercising that will not exacerbate your pain but improve your stress level. Think about, for example, taking a yoga class. Yoga will teach you various poses, also called “asanas,” that you will practice and breathing exercises that will focus your mind and improve your balance.
If you choose a more gentle form of yoga, such as Hatha yoga, the poses will not be challenging, and you will feel like you have done some decent exercise.
You can keep taking yoga classes or bring the yoga home to do in your living room. Other gentle forms of exercise on joints/muscles that relieve stress include tai chi and qi gong. There may be classes for these exercises in your community, or you can find videos online and learn the practices at home.
Learning to accept fibromyalgia and its effect on your life can be difficult, but you can do it. You will have to rewrite your life in a sense, but you can find pleasure and satisfaction in new activities better scaled to your condition and symptoms.