For the estimated 10 million Americans living with fibromyalgia, there is nothing “simple” about it. The daily battle with widespread pain, fatigue, and mental fog can be debilitating. Trying to be a productive person under these conditions is a challenge.
Fibromyalgia sufferers struggle every day coping with this “new” version of their lives. Gone is the independent, productive person you once were. In place is someone left wondering, “How am I going to contribute today?” And it is not simply how am I going to contribute to my job, to my home, and to my family, but how am I going to contribute to my physical and emotional wellbeing?
One of the best ways to begin managing the daily stress and rigors of living with Fibromyalgia is to start simple. Below are 4 simple yet highly effective daily habits to adopt.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Common Sense? Yes. But this is one of the most important things you can do to help manage your fibromyalgia.
Begin each day with a glass of water. You are naturally dehydrated in the morning. A glass of water will help quench that thirst and also help eliminate the toxins your body has been processing throughout the night.
Continue drinking water throughout the day. A basic guideline for daily water intake is eight 8-ounce glasses, but try to drink more. Water detoxifies your body, which can help your muscle to recover from flare-ups. Water will also:
- Reduce Headaches and Dizziness
- Increase Mental Clarity
- Improve Your Energy
Helpful Hint: Try squeezing fresh lemon in your water for added health benefits. Lemon water has been shown to help with digestive problems, alleviate cold and flu symptoms and can even aide in weight loss.
2. Avoid Toxic Foods and Beverages
Toxic foods are acid forming foods. Studies have shown an acidic diet will interfere with your body’s ability to absorb minerals and nutrients. It will also make a body more susceptible to fatigue and illness. Some of the most common items to avoid are:
- White Sugar
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Processed Foods
- Junk/Fast Food
Eating right is one of the best ways to manage fibromyalgia. If you do partake in anything from the list, increase your water intake even more to help flush the toxins from your system more quickly.
Note: There is more and more evidence that gluten-intolerance may be a major contributing factor in many chronic illnesses, including fibromyalgia. I will examine the possibilities more closely in an upcoming post.
3. Move Your Body
Researchers have proven that gentle exercise, such as walking, yoga, or aquatic therapy, may be the most beneficial way to improve Fibromyalgia symptoms. This may seem counterintuitive given the amount of pain everyday movements can cause, but experts believe exercise can actually help break the pain cycle. Here are some of the listed benefits of exercise with fibromyalgia:
- Increased oxygen flow to the muscles, which helps diminish pain and spasms
- Improved quality of sleep, which helps battle daily fatigue and mental fog
- Decreased anxiety and depression, conditions common in people with FM
Start slow. It may not be possible to exercise during a flare-up and that is okay. The key is to gradually and consistently start moving. Start with simple stretches so you can begin to feel the benefits of movement, and from there work up to a more physical workout. You will begin to see improvement in your symptoms and your overall outlook on life.
4. Avoid Self-imposed Guilt
Yes you have fibromyalgia. Yes you have pain and discomfort and a whole host of other issues. You cannot and should not deny this. But do not fall victim to the diagnosis. Get the most you can out of each day and leave the rest for another day.
If your major accomplishment for the day is that you took a shower, cooked dinner, and had a semi-intelligent conversation with your husband – embrace it! Celebrate it! Don’t think about what you did not accomplish. Don’t get bogged down in the endless muck of what you can no longer do. Guilt is self-punishment, and do you not suffer enough without adding to it?
Do not compare your reality now to your pre-fibromyalgia reality. You did not have the pain then that you do now. This is your new reality with all of the very realistic challenges you face daily. It is not your fault, but you are the only one who can make the best of it. Start one day at a time. Start with acceptance, and the need to change, to adapt. Leave the blame and the anger behind and start living your new life. Start simply. Take baby steps to avoid the painful leaps.