If you've lived with Fibromyalgia for any significant amount of time, you probably are already aware that there are some things that you can do to help reduce your pain and discomfort.
Yet, most of us still struggle with flare-ups.
Fibromyalgia flare-ups, commonly called "Fibro-Flares," are days, weeks, or even months when our symptoms are more intense than the level of discomfort we would normally experience from our fibromyalgia symptoms. This rise in symptom intensity can often interfere even greater than usual with our ability to make up adequate self-care, do daily living activities, such as chores, cooking, or working, maintain mental wellness, all of which decreasing our quality of life.
An example of a Fibro-Flare is when your pain levels jump up to an intolerable state. Your IBS symptoms seem uncontrollable, your fatigue feels unshakeable, you are hit by migraine after migraine, and your mental and emotional state may feel unstable. I understand that many of us with fibromyalgia already live a life at this level of intensity of symptoms, unable to work or maintain adequate self-care. It may feel like we live in a constant flare.
Three years ago, following a minor medical procedure, I experienced a Fibro-Flare that lasted over six months. I was mostly bed-bound. It was my taste of hell on earth, and I felt broken not only physically by mentally and emotionally. Obviously, I'm here sitting at a computer with the focus and energy to write, taking breaks to stretch to help lower my pain, so I did recover from that flare and have found strategies that work for me to live with fibromyalgia and avoid flares.
I think it's important to know what works for you and be ready if fibromyalgia flares strike. Though it's just as important to constantly check my habits and see where within my fibromyalgia symptom management I could make changes to help avoid being vulnerable to a flare-up of intense symptoms.
If you feel that your Fibromyalgia symptom management needs improvement, I urge you to dive deeper into looking first at three everyday "normal life" things that could be contributing heavily to the frequency and severity of your Fibromyalgia flare-ups.
Before taking a closer look at these things, I want to emphasize how important it is to remember to have patience and kindness towards yourself when considering taking action and steps towards avoiding Fibromyalgia flares.
Though they may seem general and "no brainer," these steps actually take effort and are harder for someone with Fibromyalgia to manage than someone not dealing with fibromyalgia symptoms, such as insomnia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression.... to name a few.
With perseverance, you can minimize how often and how intensely these Fibro-Flares hit you, and I'm hopeful that you can even make the fibromyalgia flare-ups disappear completely by tackling these. It's not just pie in the sky thinking. I live with fibromyalgia symptoms that still interfere with living a "normal life" I don't see myself being able to return to a stressful job like nursing, which I was so dedicated to. I loved it. I know, though, that if I want to live flare-free, I need much less stress in my life. So now I'm in a place that even on my worst day, a flare for me doesn't leave me bed-bound anymore. A flare for me doesn't involve multiple symptoms. It's taken dedication and constant review of my life, habits, and finding hidden triggers. The following are the top three things I recommend you focus on to avoid fibromyalgia flares.
1. GET GOOD SLEEP
Easier said than done, right? I understand. Poor sleep is one of the top symptoms of Fibromyalgia, and it seems that so often a symptom that people with Fibromyalgia try to "learn to live with." It's actually of exponential importance to make sure we sleep well when dealing with this difficult condition. When we don't sleep well enough, our pain levels can feel amplified, our fatigue is worse, and feelings of stress begin to compound. Be sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night to prevent that from developing. Read more - How to Get a Better Night's Sleep.
2. DITCH STIMULANTS
It is completely customary for a lot of people to ingest a certain level of caffeine every day. The problem with this is that stimulants can cause our body to have a stress response and stay there until the caffeine is out of its system. When we're stressed, our body's muscles can become tightened, which seems very common in people with fibromyalgia. This tightening of our muscles causes us to feel stiff and exacerbate our pain and result in cramping and inflammation. Even more uncomfortable, caffeine can cause bowel inflammation for people who have Fibromyalgia, so it may be best to pass on that second cup of coffee in the morning. Consider trying a milder stimulant like green tea, or experiment with Matcha if you still have a craving for a morning energy boost.
3. MINIMIZE PHYSICAL & EMOTIONAL STRESS
If you have people or situations in your life that cause you stress, it would probably be a good idea to let them know that you need a little space from time to time. Setting up healthy boundaries can save you time and stress, and you have the right to let people know that you need to take care of your health. It's important to know when to say no, and to know your limitations. It's better to let yourself heal and strive towards feeling better than to end up flipping from flare to flare. Don't do more than you can do, and you will give yourself time to heal when you need it the most. Learn more - 4 Ways to Say No to Others When You Need Rest.
Read next - How to Manage Fibromyalgia Flares.