Emotional Health and Fibromyalgia

Emotional Health and Fibromyalgia

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    Emotional stress can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms. People with fibromyalgia often say that their pain and other symptoms flare up or feel worse when they're having a stressful day or coping with emotionally upsetting circumstances. Finding a way to manage your stress level, such as practicing meditation or yoga, can help you control fibromyalgia symptoms.
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    A Family Medicine, answered on behalf of

    Dealing with fibromyalgia, like dealing with any debilitating chronic problem can be difficult. How we choose to let our disease process affect us mentally is a choice. There are going to be times when the disease process is going to get you down, and that is not surprising, but there are ways of refocusing. Think about what you normally find funny and be sure they are part of your life. Keep a diary of the things that make you smile. You might find outright laughing is not working for you right now, but just putting a smile on your face changes the way your body feels. Watch children or pets at play. Think about some of the funny things that have happened to you in your life. Watch a comedy. When I was dealing with the events around having cancer there were two movies that always made me smile. I got copies of them and would watch them when I needed to lift my mood. We can't change the events around us, but we can make choices about how to deal with them.

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    Coping with fibromyalgia can be emotionally draining, but many people who are diagnosed with this condition live long and satisfying lives. Following a well-designed treatment plan is essential. If your doctor has prescribed medication for controlling fibromyalgia symptoms, take all doses on schedule and report any side effects you experience. Managing fibromyalgia on a daily basis can help prevent your symptoms from overwhelming you. Take these steps:
    • Eat a healthy diet.
    • Make time for regular exercise. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bike are ideal for many people with fibromyalgia. Water aerobics or water yoga may be helpful, too.
    • If you have trouble sleeping due to fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor about strategies for overcoming this problem. Lost sleep will cause fatigue, which may worsen your symptoms.
    • Keep stress in check. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.
    These strategies can help you to feel like your old self, or maybe even better.
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    To manage stress with fibromyalgia, it's important to evaluate and prioritize your daily commitments and set firm limits. Aim to do the activities that are most important to you in any given day (work, family, self-care) and avoid over committing yourself.

    You may need to allow more time at work to get your projects completed. This will help reduce the stress you feel when faced with a deadline. Also, allow for down time in the middle of each day to meditate or rest. This will help you feel more relaxed throughout the afternoon and evening hours.

    Some experts recommend cognitive behavioral therapy to help people with fibromyalgia learn new ways to cope with negative thoughts. Keeping a daily journal of your activities and fibromyalgia symptoms can help too. Learning which commitments make your fibromyalgia symptoms flare up can help you plan accordingly in the future. It's also important to get sound sleep and daily exercise to help lower your stress.
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    A , Psychology, answered

    Anger is a normal and natural emotion. However, it becomes destructive when we let it consume our life, have a negative impact our relationships, or keep us from performing our best. Did you know that anger can actually make your fibromyalgia worse?  Inhibiting your anger may increase your sensitivity to pain. Suppressing or holding in your anger may make you more aware of it and making you feel angrier. You may feel no escape from your emotion. 

    Here are some quick tips to help you find healthy outlets to express your anger.

    1. Accept your anger as a normal emotion. Stop fighting it; rather accept it for what it is an emotion. Don’t hold onto it as it will consume you. You are not your anger rather it is a part of you but not all of you. 
    2. Find an outlet to release your anger. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Make sure that you incorporate that activity as a part of your daily life. We all need make sure that we are engaging in things that bring us joy. 
    3. Find your voice to express yourself. Use assertion not aggression to articulate how you feel; as Stephen Covey put it “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood”.
    4. Anger masks other emotions. Odds are your anger is concealing an underlying emotion, i.e., hurt, pain, shame, guilt, anxiety, or fear. Go to the root of your anger. Address the true emotion that you’re feeling and work on that, by default your anger will decrease.
    5. Work on changing your perspective. Listen to the words you feed yourself. Are you saying more negative things than positive?  If so, spin those thoughts around and change your self-talk.
    6. Channel that anger toward the positive. Join a fibromyalgia support group; if your neighborhood doesn’t have one start one. Organize an event to increase public awareness of fibromyalgia. Regardless of what it is, find something that you can get involved in to make a difference in your life and others as well.
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    You will probably experience a range of reactions to your fibromyalgia from friends, family, coworkers, and others. Some may question whether fibromyalgia is a real illness, or tell you, "But you don't look sick!" This can be frustrating, but try not to let it get you down. Save your energy for the important things you want to accomplish. Some friends and family may be in denial about your fibromyalgia, and act as if nothing is wrong. You may want to broach the subject of fibromyalgia with them gently and remind them that it's okay, and healthy, to talk about your condition. Be open and responsive to any questions others may have about fibromyalgia. You can be an educational source for them.
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    A , Health Education, answered

    Many people cope with chronic pain and insomnia by pretending it isn’t happening. But this coping strategy may be costing you lots of your limited energy that could be better used for proactive approaches to alternative treatments, like taking a water aerobics or yoga class.

    What matters the most is how well you cope emotionally with your illness and that you take proactive steps toward positive lifestyle changes, including more exercise and a better diet. You must conquer denial before you can be a fully successful patient.

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    It can be frustrating and emotionally difficult when your body becomes increasingly sensitive to pain and you're easily fatigued. But try to focus on the positive. Be extra mindful of all the things you can do, and celebrate the good days when you're feeling less pain and fatigue. Cheer your body on; don't lash out at it. Start and end each day with a few optimistic thoughts. It may help to keep a happiness journal, noting what your body did for you each day and how it performed well, among other things.
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    A , Psychiatry, answered

    Our tendency as humans is to fight the pain we're experiencing, whether it's physical or emotional. We don't want to have it, and so we struggle against it. With physical pain, when we struggle against it - in other words, when we refuse to accept it and instead judge it - we make it worse. Think about it: fighting our reality, judging it as unfair or saying it shouldn't be like this, causes us to tense up in anger, frustration, resentment, bitterness, etc. Tensing up makes our physical pain worse, which makes it more difficult to tolerate, which adds to our emotional burden, and so on.

    Acceptance makes life more bearable. While it doesn't take away the pain, it changes your relationship to the pain and reduces the extra emotional pain (what is referred to as suffering) you experience. So acceptance is important to your emotional health whether you have fibromyalgia or not - it's simply a healthier, happier way of living your life.

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    You can learn how to cope with social isolation due to your fibromyalgia. Reach out to trusted friends and family members and talk with them honestly about your concerns about becoming socially isolated.

    You may need at times to be around other people, even if you would rather be by yourself. There are many people who have learned to live with fibromyalgia. It may be helpful to join a fibromyalgia support group.

    Remember, there may be times when your fibromyalgia symptoms cause unexpected flare-ups that cause you to pull away from social engagements. However, if you feel you have become more socially isolated than normal, talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your concerns.