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What You Can Do to Live Well with Fibromyalgia

View recovery as a process

Rather than look for the one “magic bullet” that will cure you, see every action as a step on the road to improved health. Don’t expect to see overnight changes; slow progress is still…progress.

Let go of fear

The unpredictability of FM and uncertainty about the future causes a great amount of fear and anxiety. The best way to cope with this is to focus on the moment as best you can and take it one day at a time. Avoid contemplating the “what ifs.”

Accept your limitations

We live in a society that emphasizes what we do rather than who we are. The limitations imposed by FM may require us to shift our identities away from external accomplishments and create a lifestyle that accommodates our need for rest. You may not be able to do the same job you did before or exercise as long or as hard. Look for new ways to respond to what your body needs at every stage.

Avoid negative people and things

As you increase your awareness of your body’s signals and the changes in your mood and energy level, you may begin to notice patterns. Do certain activities leave you more drained than usual? Does spending time with certain people make you especially depressed or frustrated? Try to focus your energies on what enhances your sense of well-being, and let go of what damages it.

Be patient and compassionate with yourself

FM sufferers are sometimes their own worst enemy. The pressure they put on themselves, the guilt they feel about their limitations, and the judgment and self-criticism that occupies their minds all serve to increase stress and detract from their inner healing powers. Strive to nurture yourself, look for simple pleasures, and forgive your shortcomings. Believe that recovery is possible with time, and know that you’re doing the best you can

Think positively, not unrealistically

Many people with chronic illness learn to enjoy and appreciate things they never did before. Try to focus on what you have, rather than what you’ve lost, on what you can do rather than on what you can no longer do. This is not to say you should adopt a “Pollyanna” attitude. Acknowledging feelings of loss and sadness are equally important. Recognize and express your feelings, but try not to dwell on them.

Listen to your body

Learn how to carefully observe your body’s signals and adjust your energy expenditure accordingly. Even as your condition improves it’s essential to pace yourself, balancing activity with rest. Know that overdoing will have consequences–sometimes occasionally making the choice to overdo is necessary and worthwhile, but we can try to plan for this by allowing more downtime afterward.

Keep track of your symptoms and progress

It’s helpful to monitor your symptoms and the factors that affect them in order to determine any patterns. Based on your conclusions, you can make more effective decisions about your activities and environment. Record-keeping also allows you to see progress over time.

Cultivate supportive relationships

Spending time with people you care about is good for the body and the soul. People who are supportive of you can provide love, encouragement, and help with practical matters like getting to doctors’ visits or difficult household tasks. Reaching out to others is essential to combat the loneliness and isolation that is inherent with a debilitating illness. Don’t waste energy on those who can’t or won’t try to understand and accommodate your illness; focus on those who do.

Relax!

Most FM patients who have recovered state that some type of relaxation is essential to achieving and maintaining better health. Some practice meditation, deep breathing, or other types of relaxation exercises. Cultivating a peaceful environment is also important.