I get monthly e-mail updates and quarterly journals from the Fibromyalgia Network. They have a very informative website, as well as good articles in the journal and updates. One of the articles in the update I just got was about a survey that was done with people with fibromyalgia.It was performed by Lillemor Hallberg, Ph.D., at Halmstad University in Sweden. It was synthesized into 6 strategies for living a balanced life with fibro. The 6 strategies are:
1. Distract yourself from pain.
2. Participate in activities that alleviate your pain.
3. Avoid unnecessary stress.
4. Use good days wisely.
5. Plan activities in advance.
6. Too much activity is sometimes worth it.
I want to comment on this last one. Most strategies we hear about are strategies for decreasing the symptoms we don't like. This last strategy is different. This one tells us that while decreasing symptoms is good, you have to live your life, even if it means increasing symptoms sometimes. If you always err on the side of caution and avoid anything that causes pain or fatigue, you are missing out on life.
Sometimes a family gathering or a social event are worth the price of a few days pain afterward. The trick is knowing how much and how often. Each of us is different, there is no magic formula. It takes thought, and perhaps some trial and error. What is important to you? How much is this event/activity worth to you? Project into the future to the day after the event. You are lying in bed, groaning. Are you thinking, "Where was my brain? I should not have done that." Or are you thinking, "Man, do I hurt. But it sure was great seeing everybody." If you skipped the event, would you be regretting it the next day?
Asking yourself these kinds of questions will help you identify when it is worth it to push yourself past your usual limits, and when it is not worth it. You be the judge. It is your life, live it. (Yeah, I know. Easier said than done. ; )
The article ends with this:
The only common strategy the researchers did not endorse was to ignore pain. “By ignoring pain, the women’s fast pace and hyperactivity is maintained,” says Hallberg. “This will probably result in increased pain and fatigue and increase the imbalance.” While the researchers felt the distraction and activities strategies were key and could be learned, patients felt that reducing stress might have the best impact.