People with fibromyalgia don’t wish it on anyone! Symptoms such as chronic pain, fatigue, non-restful sleep, to name a few, are part of their clinical picture. To get out of it, these people make many efforts. Certain actions help. Others can be counterproductive. Let me share 3 tips from the therapist’s point of view to help you adapt to fibromyalgia!
Tip # 1: Take into account your energy level
I have often seen people with fibromyalgia get in full action; fill their schedules for the day, as if they were in perfect health. They reasoned as follows: “If I put myself in action, in motion, maybe the energy will eventually come back. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening. These people find themselves more tired … Instead of moving forward, they fall behind. Discouraging, even depressing! What approach to take?
I suggest you take into account your energy level. I like to use the scale from 0 to 10, where 0 = no energy and 10 = full of energy (like a child). If your energy level is only 3 or 4/10 – which is often the case for people suffering from fibromyalgia – you should plan breaks during the day, reduce the duration of your work sessions (housework or other) and pace the rhythm. Some people plan a day of rest between two days of outdoor outings (meetings, errands, etc.). Wise decision!
Tip # 2: use hard analogies!
Many people with fibromyalgia do not feel understood by family, friends, colleagues and sometimes even their doctor. Result: they feel even more lonely and sad. How do you explain to others what it’s like to live with fibromyalgia? I recommend that you use hard-hitting analogies. Here is an example: “Fibromyalgia is a bit like a muscle flu, but all year-round!” Easy to understand, right?
An analogy cannot sum up by itself what it is to live with fibromyalgia. However, it can help those around you to better understand. Do you use analogies?
Tip # 3: indulge in a suitable leisure activity
Recreation, if chosen well, can be therapeutic and contribute to recovery. How? They can actually help reduce your stress levels, give you positive emotions, and give you pride and satisfaction. I have often heard clients tell me how painting classes, for example, work well for them: they forget their worries, their pain and feel a sense of well-being during and after the activity. Awesome!
Given fibromyalgia, it may be necessary to make adaptations on the leisure side. On this subject, I would like to quote Andrée Morisset Dion, co-author of the book Fibro kaléidoscope (Éditions Carte blanche), because this woman, in my opinion, is a good example of a person who has managed to adapt to her hobbies. “When I had to put away my flute […] because playing was too painful, I learned to paint on wood. When it got too difficult, I took calligraphy lessons.” Well done!
Certain leisure activities, simple and inexpensive, are well appreciated by people struggling with fibromyalgia: painting, making mandalas, enjoying a musical piece, reading, interacting with your pet, writing, etc. What are your therapeutic leisure activities?
Let’s recap the three tips of the therapist! In summary, 1) respect your energy level, 2) use powerful analogies to make others understand what you are going through and 3) indulge in a rewarding hobby. Use these tips to help your recovery. You can find other adaptation strategies in the collective work Fibromyalgie: carnets pratiques (Éditions du Grand Ruisseau). Finally, for those living with fibromyalgia, you can subscribe to my newsletter, visit www.stephanemigneault.com/fibromyalgie (French Only).
Good health to all!
Psychologist, author and speaker
Conferences and workshops
- Ten common mistakes made by people with fibromyalgia
- Collateral damage from fibromyalgia
- Choosing the right hobbies to improve your psychological health
- Improve your lifestyle by self-motivation
- Sleep better to work better
- Five simple and effective techniques to counter stress in ten minutes
- Make your health check… emotional!
To find out more, visit: www.stephanemigneault.com