Fibromyalgia Self Care
One of the best ways to take care of your health if you have fibromyalgia is to take a proactive role in your own treatment – a process called self-management.
Here are some ways you can manage your health when you have fibromyalgia:
Maintaining good sleep hygiene is important to improving sleep quality. That means doing things to make it easier for you to go to sleep and stay asleep. Establishing a regular bedtime, a regular time to wake up and strictly adhering to them is important. It may take up to six weeks for your body to get used to this change but it will aid in sleep. By practicing sleep hygiene techniques, such as reducing caffeine in the diet, using relaxation tapes before bedtime, and keeping regular bed and wake-up times, sleep can often be dramatically improved. This, in turn, helps to reduce daytime fatigue and pain.
Being Physically Active
Exercise is an extremely important aspect of the management of fibromyalgia. Studies show that certain aerobic exercise programs give people with fibromyalgia an improved sense of well-being, increased endurance and decreased pain. It may do this by acting as a natural “drug,” raising the levels of endorphins (chemicals) in your body that can reduce pain and fatigue.
You may be reluctant to exercise if you’re already tired and in pain but there are several types of exercise you can choose. Forms of exercise that include stretching and relaxation, such as yoga, may be very useful for people with fibromyalgia. Strength training can be performed by people with fibromyalgia, but it’s generally recommended that these types of exercise be started after a successful aerobic exercise program. Low- or non-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking, biking, Pilates, water aerobics or swimming, generally are the best ways to start your exercise therapy. However, it’s important to begin exercising at a level that you can tolerate without a substantial increase in pain. Many people with fibromyalgia find it necessary to consult with an experienced physical therapist for best results. Physical therapists can help you by designing a specific exercise program to improve posture, flexibility and fitness.
Stress management techniques, such as breathing exercises, and learning to manage fatigue by pacing techniques, such as alternating periods of activity with periods of rest, can help you control the feelings of anger, sadness and panic that often overwhelm people living with frequent pain and fatigue. It’s very important to find ways to reduce the sources of stress as you manage your condition.