Lifestyle Changes for Fibromyalgia
One of the most helpful things someone with fibromyalgia can do to improve symptoms and their quality of life is to make changes to their everyday life. Admittedly, this can be difficult to do, but making these changes are necessary for living the best life possible with fibromyalgia.
- Pace your activities. Balance is truly key. It is important to learn what your personal limits are and try to stay within your boundaries. Even on good days, schedule regular periods of rest throughout the day. On bad days, take it slow, but try to avoid doing nothing at all, as a complete lack of activity can ultimately make pain worse.
- Exercise. It can be very difficult to exercise when you have chronic pain and fatigue. But exercising on a regular basis will help improve your symptoms and quality of life.
Try gentle stretches first, and slowly work your way up. Many swear by the benefits they have found doing yoga, Pilates, or tai chi for fibro. Strength training has also been proven to be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia, just make sure you start slowly and take necessary precautions.
- Improve sleep habits. Sleep is a vital component to feeling your best with fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, sleep disturbances are commonly associated with fibro. To help your body get the best quality of sleep possible, you must practice good sleep habits.
Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, or within a 30-minute period. Use aromatherapy to help your body to relax. For example, lavender essential oils help the mind and body relax, allowing you to go to sleep faster and have a better quality of sleep.
Reduce the amount of caffeine that you intake each day and have a caffeine cut off point. Set a time each evening to start winding down, dim the lights, turn off the electronics, do something relaxing like read or color, take a relaxing bath, practice some breathing exercises. This will help to prepare your mind for bedtime.
- Reduced stress. While this is obviously easier said than done, finding ways to reduce stress can be extremely beneficial for improving fibromyalgia symptoms.
Here are a few suggestions to help reduce and successfully cope with stress: Take time each day to relax, even if it is as little as five minutes. Say no when you need to, without feeling guilty.
Do deep-breathing exercises, or practice mindfulness. There are a number of mobile apps, as well as online videos that can help to guide you through relaxing breathing exercises.
Take time to do things that you enjoy on a regular basis, things you ‘want’ to do, not just things you ‘need’ to do. Take calming detox baths. Spend time in nature. Pray. Listen to your favorite calming music, or to nature sounds. Do something creative. Journal your thoughts and feelings. Have a gratitude journal.
Therapy for Fibromyalgia
There are a variety of therapies that could potentially be beneficial for someone with fibromyalgia.
- Physical Therapy (PT) may help you increase your strength, flexibility, as well as energy through exercises. PT can also work to help you look at ways to improve your situation. Many with fibromyalgia have found water aerobics effective for improving fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that can be beneficial for both mental health problems and some chronic physical illnesses. This form of therapy can help you to cope better with stress, which will, in turn, lessen some fibro symptoms.
A therapist may also help you to get better sleep, which in turn will greatly improve your symptoms and overall wellbeing. CBT may be especially beneficial for those that have developed fibromyalgia after experiencing emotional trauma, as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).
- Occupational Therapy (OT) can help you learn how to perform your everyday activities in a way that will cause you less pain, such as making adjustments to your work area or your home.
Dietary Changes for Fibromyalgia
There are a number of diet changes that can help to reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. When looking at what you eat, one of the best things that you can do is to primarily eat real, whole foods, like fruit, veggies, whole grains, beans, and nuts.
It is also greatly beneficial to add foods to your diet that include vitamins and minerals you personally are deficient in. You may also look to include more foods that naturally reduce inflammation and pain, such as:
- Leafy greens, like spinach, kale, and broccoli
- Fruits and veggies high in antioxidants, like celery, beets, and blueberries
- Red and purple fruits, like cherries and strawberries
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy fats, like olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados
- Omega-3 fatty acids, found in walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and oily fish
- Green tea