As I’m sure you know, planning outings with fibromyalgia requires just that—planning. One of the things that took me awhile to grasp was that once I realized I had fibro, I could no longer operate on a whim, spur of the moment, seat-of-my-pants, as I had previously done. I had a lot of resentment and resistance to this idea, which of course, worsened my symptoms.
The good news is, although you may need to put more forethought into your activities, you absolutely CAN have fun in the summer and all year through, even if you do have fibro. Here’s how:
- Manage your energy reserves
Take it from one who discovered this the hard way: if you fail to plan, you can plan to fail. Fibro fighters like us have limited amounts of energy to spend per day. Can you disregard that and push past your limits? Sure you can. And THEN you can plan to be out of commission and in pain for days or weeks afterward. Not advisable.
When you have limited energy you must prioritize and decide ahead of time what you will or won’t do. As you heal your symptoms and gain more energy, you can step up your activity but you have to work with whatever your reality is that day. Not what you wish you could do, what you used to be able to do 10 years ago, what you think you “should” be able to do, what your friends or family members without fibro can do, etc.
If being at a family reunion is important to you, plan to go but don’t try to schedule going to a concert the night before and going for a marathon hike the day after. Moderation is the key. You can do it all. Just not all at once. Pacing is everything. Listen to your body.
- Modify how you engage
I just mentioned concerts and that got me thinking. I love live music and I frequently attend concerts, but I don’t act like most of the people there. I don’t drink, because I know my system doesn’t respond well to alcohol, especially out in the sun. I make sure I am well rested, well hydrated and well fed before I go. I make sure I can get up and move around every 30-40 minutes, so that sitting in my seat doesn’t become uncomfortable. I avoid bleacher type seats because I know my back will not cooperate.
Loud noises often trigger migraines for me, so I generally keep foam earplugs in my purse and enjoy the music with earplugs in, which does double duty of protecting my hearing from sound systems that are often way too loud. I dress in layers so I can be comfortable if it gets too hot or chilly.
Take note of situations that cause you discomfort and plan ahead to minimize the stress on your body. In time, this becomes second nature. It’s only a big deal if you let it be.
- Mind your mind
I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating. Fibromyalgia is agitated when we have resistance, angst and resentment on board. One of the major ways women get frazzled like this is by saying yes when we truly want to say no. It’s easy to get caught up in helping others and putting ourselves last. But when you overextend yourself, stretch yourself too thin, and take on more than you can personally and comfortably handle, you flame out.
Most experts conclude that this is a major component to how we all got developed fibro symptoms in the first place, so we have to drop that bad habit of going to the party we don’t want to go to, or volunteering for the kid’s classroom trip when we truly don’t have the energy for it, and so on.
As Oprah tells us all time and again, “No” is a complete sentence. You do not owe anyone an explanation. It’s just “No, I’m sorry I can’t.” Managing your stress levels will go a long way to getting you symptom free and once you feel better, you can do more. Daily relaxation and meditation is also extremely beneficial.
For help with using meditation to calm and soothe your mind, check out my post, “Meditation To Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain.”
What tips or tricks can you share about how to better manage your energy to make sure you can still enjoy time with friends and family? I’d love to hear what has worked well for you. Please leave a comment below.