5 Lifestyle Changes For Managing Fibromyalgia

While none of the following is going to cure fibromyalgia, these are some of the best ways of managing this condition. 

To date, there has not been any surefire way of curing fibromyalgia, nor any definitive answer as to what fibromyalgia is, exactly. Pain doctors have many ways of treating it and managing it, but it still remains a mysterious condition.

Maybe someday we will finally know. But until then, do yourself a favor—live a happier life with these lifestyle changes.

Exercise

Lifestyle Changes For Managing Fibromyalgia

You knew this would be one of the recommendations, even though exercising is probably the last thing on your mind, as fibromyalgia can turn even basic movements into Herculean efforts.

But it has to be said—exercise can help if done correctly. We’re not talking powerlifting or running a marathon here. Rather, exercises like light yoga and simple jogs can increase energy, strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and promote deeper sleep.

Starting an exercise program for fibromyalgia means a consistent, low-intensity exercise routine that will give you more energy than it will take.

Be sure to start off slow—you don’t want to overexert yourself (that will just make things worse). Over time, you can gradually increase the intensity of your exercises.

And keep in mind, you may notice a minor increase in soreness in the beginning, but this is normal and should yield a better sense of physical wellbeing in a few days.

Not only does exercise help physically, but mentally as well. Your endorphin levels will rise, reducing physical pain as well as anxiety and depression which so often accompany fibromyalgia.

According to the CDC, a good workout routine for fibromyalgia includes:

  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise—walking, jogging, hiking, swimming, etc.—per week.
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises—push-ups and light weight-lifting—2 or more days per week.
  • Work in flexibility exercises—stretching, light yoga, Pilates, etc.

Now, while this is the recommendation from the CDC, it’s important to listen to your body. If you can manage more in the beginning, do your body a favor and give yourself more exercise.

Diet

Lifestyle Changes For Managing Fibromyalgia

That’s right—no exercise plan would be complete without an improvement in diet. They go hand-in-hand.

Foods high in caffeine, sugar, and highly processed foods can intensify the symptoms of fibromyalgia (often referred to as “flare-ups”). 

You typically want to avoid:

  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Anything sweetened with aspartame
  • Anything with too many food-additives
  • Nightshade vegetables—potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant

Instead, try to get as much of the following foods into your diet as possible:

  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Lean protein—chicken, fish, nuts, beans, peanut butter
  • Omega-3 fatty acids—you can typically get this in walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, salmon, and of course, Omega-3 supplements
  • Vitamine D—you can get this in salmon, eggs, mushrooms, and various cereals and yogurts that are fortified with vitamin D
  • Whole grains—brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain pasta

Get Massages

Lifestyle Changes For Managing Fibromyalgia

Now here’s a fun one to add to the list.

Getting regular massages eases the pain caused by fibromyalgia, but they also do something even more important—decreasing swelling and stiffness, which eventually improves flexibility and range of motion, which ultimately means less pain in the long-run.

Stress Management

Lifestyle Changes For Managing Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia and chronic tension/stress go hand-in-hand. It’s unclear if the former causes the latter, vise-versa, or if the two simply feed into each other in a stress-pain-stress cycle. That said, finding better ways to manage your stress can ease symptoms overall.

There are many ways to do this, but to find ways that really work, try speaking with a therapist—preferably one trained in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). This is an effective way of controlling negative thoughts and pinpointing different “stressors” in your life so you can find more appropriate ways of dealing with them.

Some people also find acupuncture to be helpful as it places (very small) needles at certain points on the body in order to relieve tension. 

Find Ways To Improve Your Sleep

Lifestyle Changes For Managing Fibromyalgia

One of the worst symptoms of fibromyalgia is the toll it takes on your sleep. Even if you sleep 8-10 hours, you can still feel unrested.

Supplements like melatonin and valerian root can relax your body and put you into a deeper state of rest. These are commonly sold over-the-counter at pharmacies and supermarkets.

Deep breathing and meditation exercises can also quiet your mind which, in turn, quiets your body.

Keeping a regular sleep schedule is also important—try and go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at a certain time in the morning. 

Getting 8 hours of sleep per night, consistently, is one of the most important foundations you can lay in managing your fibromyalgia.

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