Fibromyalgia is a syndrome characterized by wide spread chronic pain and a collection of various symptoms that correlate with each other and affects each person differently making it a difficult condition to diagnose.
Common symptoms include sleep disorders, food intolerance and digestive problems, visual disturbance and dizziness, cognitive impairment (fibro fog), muscle weakness, stiffness and pain, headaches and heightened sensitivities to various stimuli.
Other symptoms include chronic fatigue and syndromes such as Restless Leg, Irritable Bowel and Central Sensitization, all of which add to the strain on the body’s coping mechanism and often lead to accumulative stress, anxiety and depression.
What can help Fibromyalgia?
A good place to start is to address and change any unhelpful coping methods to help reduce the stress in your life. Stress, whether it’s emotional or environmental, is a root cause of many symptoms and illness and is a major trigger to the onset of a fibromyalgia flare up.
The way we use our mind and respond to situations reflects on our emotional state. When considering that when the stress situations are health related this could mean relentless emotional turmoil for fibromyalgia sufferers. Although chronic widespread pain is the most common characteristic, emotional pain can take its toll on health too yet is often an overlooked symptom.
Living with a long term health condition such as fibromyalgia demands lifestyle changes that may have a ripple effect on others around you and learning to manage emotional health is a vital part of self-care. Acceptance and coming to terms with the adjustments to a different and new lifestyle evokes a plethora of emotions such as fear, guilt, anger, sadness and loss.
Support, information and feeling understood are paramount under such circumstances and can make all the difference to making the best choices to help you through the difficult times. There are many alternatives that help with troublesome emotions, such as Counselling, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Mind – Body Awareness techniques such as Mindfulness, Meditation and Hypnotherapy.
Medications may work for a while or as a temporary fibromyalgia treatment option measure but they are not a cure or do not treat the root cause and often result in side effects that can be mistaken for symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Holistic and Complementary Therapies often provide a choice of solutions for relief, particularly when in combination of lifestyle changes, nutrition and diet. Mind-Body awareness techniques approach fibromyalgia in a holistic way that treats the whole person with the emphasis on calming the mind and relaxing the body whilst restoring a balance to the nervous system. The overall results bring improvements to our sense of well being, builds resilience to stress and reduces the emotional turmoil, pain, fatigue, anxiety and low mood.
Mind – Body Awareness techniques address the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of fibromyalgia. Here at the clinic we offer Mind – Body Awareness Practices such as Mindfulness, Meditation and Movement, Breathing Techniques and Qigong, all of which can be learned and practiced at home at your own pace. A regular Body Scan with deep breathing works wonders for calming and relaxing the mind and body and adding a few acupressure techniques helps to aid a good night’s sleep.
Nutrition and attention to diet is key to making significant improvements to health in general, let alone if you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Keeping the body hydrated and drinking enough water, reducing caffeine and sugary based foods but eating a range of whole, fresh food (fruit and vegetables), fibre, quality protein and essential fats provides the body with the essential nutrients to support the immune, endocrine and digestive systems as well as other bodily functions.
A journal or food diary helps to track the foods that might trigger a flare or intolerance and you can record energy and mood levels to give you an indication of your best and worst times throughout the day. Supplementing your diet is a good idea and ensures you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals to support the brain and the body.
Exercise may at times seem too difficult to consider, even the thought alone leaves you cringing over the aftermath of fatigue, chronic pain and muscle weakness. It’s often a big enough task to take a shower, however the immune system, muscles and joints rely on movement or they suffer, so even a gentle stroll or stretching is better than no form of exercise. To find out more how we can help, go straight to our services page.
Journaling is a useful tool to keep track of the triggers of your flare ups, fibromyalgia pain, food intolerance, automatic thought patterns which result in negative emotion and unhelpful behaviours. Very often we can become our worst enemy when it comes down to our minds, our thoughts create our beliefs, attitudes, emotional state and behaviour. Journaling acts as a therapeutic process to help you express and reveal any changes that you need to make.
What can help Fibromyalgia? I’d love to read about what helps you. Feel free to comment below.
author Jok Saunders, fellow fibromyalgia sufferer and founder of the clinic