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Tips for coping with fibromyalgia

The all-over body pain and tiredness from fibromyalgia may be helped with some lifestyle and self-help measures:

Minimise stress in your life

There is speculation that stress may play an important role in triggering fibromyalgia symptoms. In fact, many people with fibromyalgia tell of feeling anxious, nervous, and panicked around the time when fibromyalgia symptoms flare. Some experts find that when fibromyalgia patients reduce stress in their lives, they also experience a reduction in depression, anxiety and fatigue. Sleep becomes more restful and their mind relaxes. Because they feel more in control, the symptoms that were once immobilising subside, and quality of life improves.

Remove yourself emotionally from stressful situations

Sometimes, people magnify problems, making them seem far greater than they are. The stress reaction is triggered by perception. When you imagine something to be a "life or death situation", even though in reality it is not, your body reacts as if you are in danger. Work at tempering your emotions as problems come up throughout the day. Instead of seeing every crisis as a disaster, learn to view life's interruptions as "inconvenient, but tolerable." You will find that when you see life as something that you can easily handle, you will not feel overpowered when trouble comes.

Make modifications at work

To keep working part-time or full-time, you must stay mentally and physically able to handle your job responsibilities. To avoid stress and anxiety, you may need to allow more time during the day to fully carry out your responsibilities Talk to your employer and work out a flexible schedule that allows you to come in later and leave later. Or ask your employer if you can work from home one or two mornings a week so you can get more rest. Alternatively, ask if you could take a nap at lunch time to boost your energy. Whatever modifications you make, avoid procrastination. Budget your time, follow your daily "To Do" lists, and limit your outside commitments on work days.

Work to improve communication skills

Communication is also important with a chronic illness like fibromyalgia. Open and honest communication helps decrease chances of conflict between you and your spouse, family, friends and colleagues. This is especially true when you feel angry or resentful about having unending pain and fatigue. The mental distraction that comes from preoccupation with your illness can hinder productive communication. If you feel overwhelmed with the stress of fibromyalgia, psychological counselling can help you develop appropriate and functional communication strategies to deal with your condition and other issues in your life.

Learn to say "no"

Failing to set personal limits or saying "yes" to too many demands will put you in overload. That will add to your already elevated stress level. To help yourself say "no" to a persuasive friend, think through the situation before you answer. Check your diary, and weigh up the alternatives. Involve family members or friends in the discussion about what to do. Would another commitment stop you from getting the rest, exercise and relaxation you need to feel well? Would it interfere with the priorities that are high on your list? The desire to help others is commendable, but being all things to all people may hinder your healing and make you feel resentful, tired and depressed. It is important to take a firm stand, so say "no", and mean it.

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