As someone living with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or fibromyalgia can make life much harder, managing a multitude of symptoms including short-term memory and information processing problems can be extremely trying; you could experience bad phases or relapses followed by good ones (remission).
There are a few steps you can take to help manage and improve the quality of life with a chronic condition, starting with getting an accurate diagnosis and treating it appropriately.
1. Rest and Sleep
Rest is key whether you’re trying to relieve chronic pain or just want to feel your best overall, providing essential immune system benefits, mental wellbeing benefits, enhanced concentration and memory benefits, stress reduction benefits and overall mood enhancements – among many other advantages.
As part of managing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, getting sufficient rest is also an integral component. If you are having difficulty sleeping, consult your physician who may perform a sleep study to identify its source.
Your daily schedule may need to include some periods of restful relaxation – be it taking a nap or just sitting still for a few minutes – in order to help ease tension and anxiety, which in turn improves sleep quality. These short bouts of relaxation can help relieve tension, which in turn improves it.
One small dose of antidepressant medication can also help alleviate symptoms associated with both fibromyalgia and chronic pain, providing much-needed relief. You can obtain antidepressants through your doctor or local pharmacy.
Aerobic training may also provide relief to people living with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue. Studies show that engaging in light activities such as walking can reduce symptoms like pain and tender points.
Muscle strengthening exercises may also help relieve symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, according to studies. Such exercises have been found to increase energy levels, quality of sleep and strength and flexibility – three things all of us could use more of!
Massage can ease pain, enhance circulation and improve overall sense of well-being, while simultaneously decreasing stress levels – potentially helping reduce painful and debilitating fibromyalgia symptoms.
Stressful times have many Americans feeling frazzled, and finding ways to relax is essential to health and wellbeing. Mindfulness practices, yoga, meditation and psychological counselling are some ways to take time each day for yourself in order to reduce stress.
Exercise can help manage the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, including pain, stiffness and reduced mobility. Exercise also boosts mood and decreases anxiety levels.
First and foremost, it is advisable to speak to your doctor regarding the role exercise can play in your treatment plan. They will advise on how much physical activity is suitable and may refer you to specialists in physical or occupational therapy for assistance.
Your doctor will assist in creating and monitoring your exercise program and progress. Aim to keep exercise sessions short; aim to do at least twice weekly.
Beginners should begin with low-impact exercises that won’t aggravate symptoms and can easily be done in their homes – these could include yoga, tai chi, Pilates or walking.
Once you have established an appropriate level of exercise that does not present too many difficulties, gradually increase your efforts until reaching a point where it can be performed several times each week with few or no adverse side effects. Take rest breaks between sets to prevent overdoing it – this may worsen your symptoms!
If your pain doesn’t ease after several weeks of exercise, speaking to your physician about medication could be necessary. He or she could prescribe medicines used to treat pain associated with fibromyalgia such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB and others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) and duloxetine (Cymbalta). If these don’t work either you could also receive antidepressants or sleeping aids like Elavil (Elavil), Gabapentin (Neurontin) and Pregabalin (Lyrica).
Diet is key for improving overall wellbeing and can reduce pain, fatigue and other symptoms of illness. Speak with a healthcare provider about how your eating habits and diet impact you individually to create effective changes that work best.
Eating healthful foods for chronic fatigue syndrome can help restore energy and alleviate its symptoms like headaches, irritability and fatigue. To achieve best results it’s essential to limit high-fat and processed food and increase consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts legumes fish lean meats whole grains seeds etc.
If you suffer from fibromyalgia, it’s also essential to avoid foods which exacerbate its symptoms – for instance dairy and chocolate may exacerbate them.
Keep a food diary to determine which foods cause your symptoms and which do not. You may need to eliminate some from your diet altogether or rotate them as part of an experiment to find what works for you.
Your doctor will ask about other conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms, such as thyroid dysfunction or anemia. He or she may perform blood tests in order to check your chemistry and identify possible sources for your discomfort.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is typically diagnosed when there are no other conditions which could explain your fatigue and symptoms, such as pain or dizziness. Your physician might conduct tests to rule out kidney or liver issues, thyroid or adrenal gland disorders, sleep disorders, electrolyte imbalances or any illnesses which could explain these signs and symptoms.
Effective treatments for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome focus on targeting your most severe or bothersome symptoms first, while supporting other systems within your body. You could see a physical therapist or occupational therapist for exercises designed to strengthen and relax muscles; you might also require psychological counseling in order to manage stress better and develop strategies for maintaining positive self-image.
4. Stress Management
Stress management involves identifying and controlling stressors as well as creating coping strategies to effectively address them, with an eye toward leading a balanced lifestyle that encompasses physical as well as emotional wellbeing.
Stress management is vitally important to all, but especially those living with chronic illnesses.
People diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may not be able to manage their symptoms on their own and require assistance from health care professionals, including physicians.
Physical and mental health specialists may need to be involved. A support group may help the person meet people who share similar symptoms.
Fibromyalgia and CFS patients must learn effective coping skills. Yoga and meditation may provide relief from both pain and anxiety, thus aiding sleep better.
Exercise is another key factor in alleviating symptoms associated with these disorders. Engaging in regular moderate exercises such as walking or swimming can increase energy levels and mood while helping you avoid weight gain which often accompanies these conditions.
Patients suffering from fibromyalgia and fatigue may also benefit from seeking psychological counseling, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy. Some forms of psychotherapy such as this have proven particularly effective for treating these illnesses.
Mind-body stress reduction programs (MBSR), like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), have also proven useful in treating chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia and fatigue syndrome. These programs teach participants to focus on breathing exercises, meditation techniques, mindfulness exercises and breathing practices that relieve their pain or anxiety and therefore can significantly lessen symptoms significantly.
5. Social Support
An effective social support network can be an invaluable asset when managing chronic illness, providing vital relief from both its associated stress and mental wellbeing benefits. You don’t need a large group to reap its rewards; simply find people who understand and are supportive of your needs and goals.
Social support can make life much more manageable when facing depression or anxiety; it also serves to keep us focused on recovery efforts while motivating us toward leading healthier lifestyles.
Studies have demonstrated the positive link between having a supportive network and better mental health and reduced reactions to stressful events.
Social support and mental health are intricately linked, yet researchers believe having strong networks of friends and family can significantly lower stress. Individuals who lack perceived social support (i.e. don’t feel as supported by friends and family) tend to experience higher levels of anxiety than others.
Due to limited ability, people living with cognitive disabilities often have difficulty using coping strategies designed to manage negative emotions during stressful events.
People who enjoy high levels of social support may be more likely to engage in positive coping behaviors, like exercise and engaging in positive activities that boost mood, which could help increase wellbeing.
Other ways you can manage fatigue include seeking social support and keeping track of how you’re feeling each day; exercising regularly; and being sure other factors such as sleep issues or low blood sugar aren’t contributing to feeling tired.