Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Fibro and how self-care can help...


This is an interesting topic as Fibromyalgia can present with so many symptom combinations for sufferers, which can vary in intensity and length of recovery.

When a flare up of symptoms happens it can be a confusing time trying to find strategies to help, and often sufferers just don't have the energy to do the research, cook a different set of foods, try the different complementary therapies available, they just want to switch off for a while and let the flare up pass.

It's on good days that they really need to be looking for ways of managing their illness, put the ground work in, build the toolkit of self-care such that on bad days it's already there, you just need to open it.

So practically, what can you do? Well, that really depends on the symptoms you have. For example, if your flare up includes IBS symptoms dietary considerations are going to be more important than others so researching foods that are kind to IBS would be worthwhile, maybe having a few IBS-friendly recipes to hand that are quick and easy to prepare (as you don't want to be adding any stress at this point).

If you suffer with pain and fatigue are you able to hit the stop button (even if it's just for 24hrs), wrap up, have a sofa/duvet day - without feeling guilty about it! Even if you don't like being dependant on painkillers, some days you just need to take them, allow your body to relax and rest and then come back feeling better the next day.

Some people find regular massage can help, it acts to stimulate not just the muscles but also the nervous system - helping to reset and rebalance the signals, like finding neutral in your gearbox, and also stimulates the lymphatic system to help move any stagnant lymph - all of which can have a massive knock-on effect throughout the body to give a feeling of lightness and well-being.

Massage also has a wonderful side-effect of promoting a good night's sleep. Fibro sufferers often miss out on the deep, REM sleep that promotes recovery and allows you to feel refreshed the next day.

If you suffer with depression and anxiety it can be difficult to motivate yourself to do anything, especially if it's combined with other physical symptoms. Some people find that just getting outside in the fresh air, particularly somewhere green and natural (garden, park, woods, riverside) is a great help. You don't have to go hiking, or walk miles, just sitting on a bench, wrapped up warm listening to the birds in the trees can be the break that you need to change your mood. Make a flask of tea (or whatever your favourite tipple is) and enjoy the moment.

Some people find that having a friend who understands and they can call/message on a bad day who can then meet them for a chat/coffee helps too.

I think the most important thing to remember is keep it simple. Especially if you have family to consider as this can impact on them too. If they understand your flare ups and are made aware of what they can do to help too, it will take the stress off you. I know we are all programmed to look after our families, cook the dinners, do the washing and cleaning, food shop, sort the kids stuff out for school etc. But.... asking for and accepting help with these jobs can make all the difference.

Listen to your body and feel what it wants... if you need to sleep do it, if you need to cry do that too, releasing emotions can often help release the physical issues too. Find what works for you, let family/friends know what's in your "toolkit" and how they can help. Try not to isolate yourself, it's so easy just to shut down, think no-one else understands and hide in your own dark place. 

I've written this for Fibro, however it applies to many other chronic illnesses too, you just have to choose the strategies that work for you. And as with all chronic illnesses it's about managing them and not allowing them to get the better of you.

Stay positive, enjoy the good days, manage the bad, and most crucially - be kind to yourself. 💜

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