Better Living With Fibromyalgia: 15 Tips

How do you get through the day when you're living with pain, fatigue, and a foggy brain? How do you work, meet family responsibilities, and take care of your health when you live with fibromyalgia? We've got 15 tips for making every day a little easier.

Since there is no cure for fibromyalgia and symptoms can fluctuate on good days and bad ones, the best you can do for yourself is to support your own health. That means paying attention to the basics like, eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, sleep, and stress reduction. We know that's easier said than done so let's break it down:

Diet. There's no miracle food to prevent or cure fibromyalgia, but a diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides a healthy boost of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which are important for immune system support and cell repair. 

  • Eat a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal.
  • Eat carrots, apple slices, or sliced vegetables for snacks
  • Pre-chop salad fixings and store them in the refrigerator. Then, when you're hungry or when you pack your lunch, just assemble your ingredients into a healthy salad.
  • Buy a farm share and have fresh veggies delivered to your door weekly.
  • Plan menus with veggies as the entrée and proteins as the side dishes.

Exercise. We know it's hard to move when you're sore and tired, but it's the most important thing you can do for your health. Even if all you do is go for a walk, exercise improves your immune function, cardiac health, and limbers up your painful joints. 

  • Schedule exercise in your calendar and make it as important as any appointment.
  • Allow for flexibility - if you're not feeling good one day, take it easy. Do a simple walk and follow up with gentle stretching, but do a more vigorous work out as soon as you feel better.
  • Make an appointment with a fitness instructor or physical therapist and get an exercise program custom designed for you.

Sleep. Your body does most of its repair work while you sleep, yet for people with fibromyalgia, getting to sleep and staying asleep are major challenges. In addition to timing your pain medications to cover the night shift, pick regular sleep and wake times and stick to them. 

  • Keep your room cool, but your bed warm. Get an electric blanket, heated mattress pad or even a heating pad so you feel toasty and cozy.
  • Prop your body into its' most comfortable position with extra pillows or a body pillow.
  • Invest in the best bed possible or buy a memory-foam or eggshell mattress topper for extra cushioning.
  • Ask your doctor about natural and prescription sleep aids

Stress Reduction. Stress causes your body to release Cortisol, a hormone associated with inflammation and a host of diseases. It also causes you to tense your muscles, clouds your thinking and adds to anxiety and depression, which are common with fibromyalgia. Practicing stress reduction techniques dials down the damaging effects of stress and helps your day go with the flow better.

  • Learn meditation and practice it daily. You can learn the basics online, in a book or by searching for a meditation group near you.
  • Practice yoga, tai chi or qui gong, all of which provide a two-for-one special that covers exercise and stress reduction in one activity.
  • Learn mindfulness, the simple art of being present and attentive to one thing at a time.

By taking care of your health on a daily basis, you'll be better equipped to deal with the rest of your life with or without fibromyalgia.