If you are used to being very active and suddenly get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it can come as a big shock. Things that used to be easy to do become much more difficult and you will find that your energy level is much less than it used to be.
There are things you will have to get used to when fibromyalgia strikes and you find that you can’t do the things you used to do.
Learning to accept the condition and its effect on your life can be difficult, but it can be done. You will have rewrite your life in a sense, but you can certainly find pleasure and satisfaction in new activities better scaled to your condition and symptoms.
Here are some tips for active people who find that fibromyalgia pain is getting in the way of their activities:
- Focus on what you can do. Acceptance comes easier with awareness and so making a list of all you can do, instead of focusing on what you cannot is helpful.
- Learn how to rest. If you are used to being very active and are suddenly struck down by fibromyalgia, you may still be able to do some of the same activities you used to do but may not be able to do them at the same pace. 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 go back to exercising. Listen to your level of pain and fatigue as guides to tell you that you need to rest a bit before going back to what you were doing.
- 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 right away if you are suffering from fibromyalgia pain. You may have to scale back your activity level to include exercises that are easier on your muscles and joints, such as swimming or yoga. These are exercises that can be done by just about anyone with any kind of pain level and yet will be doing something active. Join a health club that has a pool and take part in swimming aerobics. This is an easy form of exercise that will not be hard on your joints and yet will exercise your muscles in a much gentler way. Try to exercise in a pool that has relatively warm water in it as this will be soothing to your pain and will make it easier to exercise.
- 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 in order to get rid of the typical morning stiffness seen in patients with fibromyalgia. If you have difficulty getting to sleep, use good sleep hygiene techniques. This means sleeping in a dark and quiet room and going to bed at the same time every night. Use your bed only for sleep or sex. If you feel like you need some kind of noise, purchase a white noise machine, which will 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.
- Do exercises that also relieve stress. Having fibromyalgia may spur you to find ways of exercising that will not exacerbate your pain and yet will improve your level of stress. Think about, for example, taking a yoga class. Yoga will teach you various poses, also called “asanas” that you will practice along with 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 difficult and you will feel as though you have done some decent exercise. You can keep on taking the yoga class or you can bring the yoga home to do in your living room. Other forms of exercise that are easy on the joints/muscles and will relieve your stress include tai chi and qi gong. There may be classes for these types of exercises or you can buy a DVD and learn the exercises at home.