7 Quick Tips For Every Fibromyalgia Sufferer Should Know

One thing which I’ll say for fibromyalgia is that it’s forced me to learn a lot along the way. Experience is a great teacher and there’s a lot I still don’t know about the condition, but I’ve learned a lot of things over time which I wish I’d already known when I received my diagnosis. That’s true of everyone’s experience with the condition.

Fibromyalgia is still not very well understood, but I hope that I can help other people living with fibromyalgia benefit from my experience. Here are a few of the most important things that I wish that I had already known when I discovered that I suffered from fibromyalgia:

1. You Can Say No

By nature, I always want to make people happy and I know that I’m not alone among fibromyalgia sufferers in this. Because of this aspect of my personality, it’s been hard for me to tell people no, even when saying yes means making my symptoms worse. These may be things which I want to do, like socializing after work when I’m already tired, or things which I don’t, like taking on extra work at the office.

A big part of coping with fibromyalgia is understanding your physical limitations and accepting that certain activities can have a serious impact on your symptoms. Knowing where to draw the line is important and you have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you’re going to need to say no. It’s the right thing to do and knowing this can help you to avoid feeling guilty for occasionally disappointing the people in your life.

2. Listen to Your Body

This ties into the first tip. You need to learn to understand what your body is telling you. For me, this has been a huge help; your body knows when you’re coming close to crossing the line and learning to listen to these signals can help you to slow down when you need to and greatly reduce the number of bad days you’ll experience. It takes time to do this and sometimes you’ll be wrong despite your best efforts, but listening to your body can make an enormous difference and make it a lot easier to live with fibromyalgia.

3. Diet & Nutrition Matter

Chances are you’ve had plenty of people (who aren’t physicians or fellow fibro sufferers) try to give you advice on exercise, diet and other lifestyle factors. These people mean well, of course, but they generally understate the complexity of the condition and fail to take into account the fact that every case of fibromyalgia is different. Since everyone is so different and the advice I was hearing was coming from people who were completely unqualified to provide it, I decided that diet and nutrition weren’t important factors.

Over time I’ve learned that I was mistaken about the importance of diet. Eating the right things won’t cure the condition and eating the wrong things won’t cause it either. However, making certain changes to my diet has made a very real difference. It’s reduced the frequency and severity of flare ups and I’ve also learned that some foods seem to make my symptoms worse. Additionally, eating a healthy diet regularly helps, since the more healthy and energetic you are in general, the easier it is to cope with fibro symptoms.

4. Reducing Decision Fatigue

We all make thousands of decisions every day, all of which involve processing a lot of information. In fact, it’s been estimated that we process somewhere in the neighborhood of 74 GB of data daily! It’s a lot to deal with and this mental exertion is the cause of what is called decision fatigue.

It’s like a computer whose hard drive is filled to capacity or whose memory is being completely used by running too many programs simultaneously – the result is a crash or freeze. Something similar can happen to us, although in people, it causes anxiety, depression and difficulty making even the simplest decisions.

I’ve coped with this by de-cluttering my life and learning to plan ahead to reduce the number of decisions I have to make on a daily basis. It makes the bad days easier and although I don’t have scientific data on this, I feel like it’s made them fewer as well. Life can be tough even if you don’t have fibromyalgia, so any little bit of stress you can eliminate from your daily routine helps more than you might think.

 Next: Learn to reduce stress . . .

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