Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors

Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors

Okay you guys. I’m not going to lie to you. As I’m writing this, I’m laying on the couch watching football and drinking a smoothie because my back is in so much pain it hurts to do anything else. Honestly, my symptoms have been pretty darn under control lately, thanks to my meds and my FibroAid, but I guess I overdid it this week!

That’s why I want to talk about self care. Not the face masks and spa days kind of self care (although those are nice too). But I want to talk about the self care that keeps your pain manageable, your brain relatively clear of fog, and your energy levels high enough to do more than function. I want to talk about the kind of self care than allows you to live your best, happiest life, despite this annoying, sometimes debilitating illness.

Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors

Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors

Prioritize Yourself

I know this inherently sounds selfish, but here’s the thing: it’s not! When you live with fibromyalgia, or any other chronic illness, putting your health and your needs first is sometimes essential. You know that saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? It’s one of my favorites, because it’s so true and so applicable. If you are run down, flaring, or just emotionally exhausted, you aren’t any good to anyone, including yourself. So in order to be a good friend, family member, employee, etc., you have to prioritize yourself and make sure you’re well taken care of.

Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors

Go Outside

I don’t necessarily mean go on some big hike or kayaking or skiing or anything, though if that’s what you enjoy, by all means, do it. But in order to keep it attainable and reasonable for all us fibro warriors, I’m just talking about getting some fresh air. Go sit on your back porch or lay in the grass. Walk around the block with your dog or take a stroll on the beach. Do something that gets you outside, looking at the beauty of nature, and breathing fresh air. It will help your mood and your overall wellbeing. I promise.

Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors

Take a Bath or a Shower

Bathing can sometimes seem like a daunting task when you’re in flare and fatigue mode. It can be a lot of work. But there’s something incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating about bathing. If a shower is too much for you (with the standing and such), try a nice hot bath. Throw in some epsom salts, maybe light a candle or two, and turn on a podcast or your favorite music. It’ll help relax your muscles and your brain, and you’ll feel like a new person. If showers are more your jam, get some fancy soap and shampoo to make it feel more luxurious. And I still recommend listening to podcasts. They just make everything better.

Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors

Cut Out the Toxic

I’m referring to people, things, responsibilities, all of it. Anything that doesn’t serve you, your loved ones, or your interests, cut it out of your life. Or, at the very least, don’t extoll too much energy on it. Because absolutely nothing is worth your peace of mind OR your physical health. I’m speaking from experience here too. I had to leave graduate school three months before graduation because of my health. My physical and mental health were deteriorating so quickly (I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few months later), that I just could no longer continue the way I was going. So I went on medical leave and finished my degree this spring, when everything was much more manageable

Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors

Do Something You Love

For me, it’s horseback riding, much to my body’s dismay sometimes. But in all honesty, it’s worth it for me. It’s my escape and it’s something I’ve loved and will continue to love for years. Even just spending time with my horse and giving him love, much like you would a dog, can be therapeutic. I think part of it is being outside, but there’s something about doing something you love that is incredibly revitalizing. That’s also why I blog. Blogging is my creative outlet and a way for me to articulate my thoughts. It’s a way for me to feel like I’m doing something (because I am), even when I’m in so much pain I can’t move. Blogging and my horse are what got me through the worst months of my health so far, and I’m not sure how I would have made it through otherwise. So find something that gives you a reason to wake up, a reason to get up (if you can), a reason to function. Because having a feeling of purpose and something to look forward to is the ultimate form of self care.

Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors

Pacing with Fibromyalgia

Pacing with Fibromyalgia

I had a few ideas in mind for this week’s blog post. I’ve been thinking about topics like “Travel and Fibro” or “Fibro and Relationships” And don’t get me wrong, I definitely still want to do write posts about those topics. They’re both important when it comes to living your best life with fibromyalgia. But this week, I’m going a little more off-the-cuff and writing about a topic that’s super relevant for me at the moment (and really all the time), and I’m sure for many, if not all, of you. This week I’m talking all about pacing!

So why is it particularly relevant for me right now? Well, I got a new full-time job! Luckily, it’s a desk job with a relatively flexible schedule, but it’s a huge adjustment for me. I went from unemployed, when I was just focusing on taking care of my health and finishing the last couple things to get my Master’s, to 40-50 hour weeks in an office. And that’s a HUGE shift in energy allotment. It’s required me to fully rethink my weekly routine, my activities, my relationships, all of it. It’s required me to start pacing every single day, every single week. And that’s totally fine with me because it’s helped me find balance and feel good most of the time.

Pacing with Fibromyalgia

What is Pacing?

What is pacing anyway? It’s a term I think we’re all familiar with, but maybe not in the context of living with fibromyalgia. I think Donna over at February Stars puts it really well by saying pacing is “doing a little at a time and breaking down tasks so they are simpler”. She’s also right in saying that, while that may seem simple and intuitive, it can be a lot harder than it seems.

I think this is because, before life with fibromyalgia, we’re so used to doing things a certain way, or doing a certain amount in a day, and when we reduce what we do in a day because of fibromyalgia, it may seem like a lot. It may seem like we’re not doing enough or not keeping up. But sometimes, we may still crash and end up in a flare.

I also think this is because we often compare ourselves to the “healthy” world. We hold our standards of productivity at the same level of people who aren’t living with fibromyalgia or other chronic diseases. And as much as we’d like to be normal and like to be treated like we’re healthy, the fact is, we sometimes have to adjust the way we do things to address our physical (and sometimes mental) limitations.

Pacing with Fibromyalgia

The First Steps

For me, and for many others out there, the first steps of figuring out your pace is giving yourself grace. Give yourself permission to do less, to let go. It’s okay to not be as productive as you once were. Your worth is NOT dependent on how much you get done or what you can do. You are worthy simply because you are you. Repeating this notion to yourself over and over again if your struggling with the idea of doing less, or feeling guilty for doing less, can be very helpful. And remember, if you work yourself into a flare, you’re going to be able to do a whole lot less while you recover.

While making sure you’re kind to yourself, allow yourself to listen to your body and mind. Mindfulness is a very powerful and important tool of pacing. It’s resting before getting too tired. It’s knowing when you can keep going. Mindfulness is key to making sure you don’t take it too far, or learning from it if you do. Listening to your body, and honouring what it tells you, is a key part of pacing.

A Few Tips

So that’s really the gist of pacing. It really does seem like a super simple concept, right? But the thing is, it’s SO individual, and every day is going to be different. Overall, however, there are a few ways you can definitely find some success with pacing.

Pacing with Fibromyalgia

  1. Get rid of the word “should”. It’s basically the worst, most guilt-laden word in the English language. It is literally motivation to do things based on the guilt you’d feel if you didn’t. But the thing is, most of those things you “should” be doing aren’t that important. So figure out what is essential and important to you, and prioritize those things. If you feel you’re able to do more once you’ve addressed those things without using all of your energy, prioritize what else serves you and use your energy accordingly. But don’t think you have to get every single thing on your “to-do list” done today, tomorrow, or even this week. Because I guarantee most of it can wait.
  2. Cut out the toxic people/activities. I know, I know. A lot easier said than done, right? Especially when those people are family members, coworkers, or people you have to deal with every day, or those activities are vital for living a functional life. I’m not saying just drop everyone and everything from your life. That would be ridiculous. What I am saying is be aware of how much energy you give to those people/activities. Don’t allow them to take up more than they deserve, because your energy is much too valuable for that. And if you do have to deal with these people/activities, try to prepare so that you can make sure they only take what you give them.
  3. Be patient. This is much easier said than done too, I know. But it’s something else that’s incredibly important. Be patient with the fact that things aren’t getting done as quickly as they used to or you’d like them to. Be patient with yourself when you do end up overdoing it and throw yourself into a flare. It will happen, especially as you start to figure out what works for you. When that does happen, give yourself the time to recover, then try again. Us fibro spoonies are nothing if not resilient, so keep trying and learn from your experiences. You will figure it out and it will get easier! And once you figure it out, you’ll be able to slowly build up to doing more and more without throwing yourself into a flare. So please, be patient. Pacing is worth it. I promise.

Do you have any experience with pacing? Let us know below!

Pacing with Fibromyalgia