4 Tips for Avoiding a Holiday Fibro Flare

“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings.”

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays upon us, it’s best to plan ahead to try to avoid a flare rather than recover from one. Between visiting family and friends, shopping, and cooking, who has time right now to deal with the pain and exhaustion of fibromyalgia? Not me, that’s for sure! Who’s with me?

Here are my top tips for avoiding a flare during the holidays:

  1. Get your Zzzz’s. Yes, it’s tempting to stay up and visit, or get up early to get that turkey in the oven, but don’t sacrifice your sleep to do so. Your best offense is to get maintain your schedule and get those 7-9 hours of sleep! Your body will thank you.
  2. Take care of yourself. Hosting the family get-together? It’s OK to ask for help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Make it a pot luck. Or cater in part of the meal. I like to set the table and prepare desserts and part of the meal the night before so I am not overdoing it on the day of the big event! Consider buying some fancy paper plates instead of using the good china. And when the kitchen is clean and the guests are gone, try a relaxing bath before bed. 🙂
  3. Eat properly. Yes, it’s the holidays. We are all going to indulge a little. But try the three bite rule when it comes to dessert or your major weaknesses: take just 3 bites of that pie or casserole. It allows you to sample and enjoy, but not overdo it. Chew slowly and pause between bites.  Avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, or those foods that you know trigger your flares (Fibromyalgia, migraines, and IBS can all be triggered by food). And don’t forget to stay hydrated!
  4. Exercise. Taking even 10 minutes for some Pilates, yoga, or a walk after that big meal will help keep everything in check. Here are some yoga moves to try to keep your digestion working properly.

I love the holidays: the food, the parties, visiting family. But I don’t love being curled up in bed because I overdid it. I prefer to enjoy my family time and count my blessings. I can skip that pecan pie if it means I won’t be in bed the next day.

“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” 

– Terri Marshall

Avoiding disaster is far better than recovering from it, and just a few simple steps can help you enjoy your holidays, so you’re not missing out on all of the fun!


Do you have other tips for avoiding a holiday flare?

Cheers!

Cynthia

When Everything Hurts

In addition to nutrition and medicine, you need other strategies for coping with the daily pain and major flares that occur.

You have probably experienced something like this before: You go to bed feeling fine….maybe just OK….no worse than usual… And when you wake up in the morning you have some new pain. You roll out of bed. You’re stiff and moving slow. Every step hurts. You think you are never going to straighten up again. And then it hits you that there is some new ache that wasn’t there when you went to bed last night. For some of us, that may just be the aging process. For others, welcome to life with fibromyalgia. 

“To hurt is as human as to breathe.” ~ J. K. Rowling

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia seventeen years ago, in September, 2000. In 2001, September was designated as Pain Awareness Month.  Pain covers a lot of different conditions and ailments – everything from arthritis or back problems to Fibromyalgia Syndrome or Multiple Sclerosis to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) or Ulcerative Colitis. Often when you have one of these conditions, you have multiple, so the pain is compounded. I suffered with endometriosis for years, then came fibro, TMJ, and now I also have TOS, chronic neck, back, and hip pain/bursitis. Pain – and coping with pain – is a way of life.

Continue reading “When Everything Hurts”

Combating the Loneliness of Chronic Pain

Chronic physical pain often also creates emotional suffering. Seven steps to deal with the loneliness and isolation of chronic pain.

You know the drill. You are in pain and suffering, often silently. Because of your condition you are in pain quite often and talking about it can be construed as “complaining,” and after a while can fall on deaf ears. You might be in deep despair because the pain is too much. Your life as you knew it has come to a halt. Exhaustion, stress, lack of sleep, and pain. That is the life you know now.

Sure, your friends and family know there’s something wrong with you. But do they really know what you’re going through? And even so, do they really want to hear about it? Again. And after you’ve declined a few invitations because you weren’t quite feeling up to going out and being social, the invitations just stop coming. Continue reading “Combating the Loneliness of Chronic Pain”

Magnesium for Pain Relief

I truly believe in using food, exercise, and things from nature to heal the body.

Finally, I have had some pain relief! If you have been following my story the last several months, you know I have been suffering with some acute pain. I am happy to report that I have not had numbness or pain in my arm now for three whole weeks!!  Zip. Zilch. Nada. That’s not to say all is well or I have any answers. Really, more questions. But for now I am enjoying the long-overdue break from my neck/shoulder/arm pain. 🙂

“Relief is a wonderful emotion, highly underrated. In fact I prefer it to elation or joy. Relief lets the air out of the Tire of Pain.” ~ Adriana Trigiani

I saw a non-surgical specialist a month ago, and was ready to go in for cervical facet joint steroid injections. One of the things I had to do was quit taking Fish Oil 7 days prior, so on Monday, July 31st I did just that. I was still experiencing pain through that week. On Saturday, August 5th I read an article by Donna of Fed Up with Fatigue about 30 Low Cost Fibromyalgia and Chronic Lyme Treatments. (Major shout out to Fibro Blogger Directory and the Friday article link-ups!) The second item on her list was magnesium malate that she said “helps to reduce my pain levels, soothes my restless legs, improves my sleep, and keeps me regular.” So I read the reviews, bought a bottle, and took a pill that night. Continue reading “Magnesium for Pain Relief”

How to Sleep Better

“Sleep is the Golden Chain that binds health and our bodies together.”

I have struggled for years with getting good quality sleep. There are nights where I just cannot fall asleep, and others where I just can’t stay asleep. While the ideal amount is between 7-9 hours for most, I still average about 6 hours a night. More than 7 hours of sleep, and I feel out of sorts. Lately I have been much better about sleeping through the night, since incorporating some simple strategies.

Those who suffer with fibromyalgia syndrome know how difficult it can be to get a good night’s sleep. In fact, sleep disturbances are one of the common symptoms associated with the condition, which then compounds the daytime fatigue. But allowing the body to rest and recharge at night is so critical to everyone’s physical and mental health, not just those with fibromyalgia.counting-sheep-1

“Sleep is the Golden Chain that binds health and our bodies together.” ~ Thomas Dekker

Health Benefits

That old saying “early to bed, early to rise makes your body healthy, wealthy, and wise” is more than just an old wives’ tale. Here’s a list of health benefits from getting adequate sleep:

  • It can help you fight off diseases
  • It can help improve your mood
  • It can lower your risk for obesity and help you lose weight
  • It can decrease inflammation
  • It allows the body to repair itself from stress and ultraviolet exposure

“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.” ~ Arianna Huffington

Getting those Zzzz’s

While you sleep, your body is working to heal itself, build up your immune system, and recharge your brain cells. Now the struggle is that people with fibromyalgia have trouble falling and staying asleep. We often don’t reach that deep sleep stage required for all of the restorative health benefits. There are a myriad of underlining conditions that could be preventing you from getting a good night’s rest:

  • Health Issues such as allergies, sleep apnea, asthma, narcolepsy, or hormone imbalance
  • Physical Issues such as chronic or acute pain, or certain prescription drugs
  • Mental Issues such as depression, stress, or anxiety
  • Environmental Issues such as too much light in your room, drinking alcohol or caffeine, or performing shift work

So assuming you don’t need to have a medical condition checked out, how do you improve your sleep, to reap those benefits? Getting into a routine helps. Here are some simple strategies that might help you establish that routine:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Set a regular bedtime routine.
  • Curb the electronics in the bedroom, that is no TV, iPad, etc. before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom comfortable, quiet, dark and cool.
  • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, and don’t eat 3 hours before bed.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Do not use tobacco.

“Golden Slumbers fill your eyes. Smiles await when you rise.” ~ The Beatles

Bedtime Routines

As we age we need less sleep, but we still need good quality sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. One of the best habits is to take a warm bath or shower before bed. This raises the body temperature, and then allows it to cool down faster, which helps you reach that deep sleep. Couple that with some aromatherapy, and you should feel relaxed and calm for bedtime. I developed my routine after reading Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive that discussed redefining success and details her wake-up call. She has another book called The Sleep Revolution that undoubtedly has more information on the subject of sleep as well.

Here are some of my favorite bedtime and bath aids:

So go draw a bath, sip some tea, rub some lavender oil between your toes and get a good night’s sleep. These are my tried and true methods. You’ll thank me in the morning!

For more sleep strategies, visit the National Sleep Foundation,”The F Word” blog and Sarah’s Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles series, or listen to JJ Virgin’s podcast with Arianna Huffington – two big proponents of sleep!  Do you have other sleep strategies you use?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Lavender Lullabies

Lavender is an herb that is both beautiful and beneficial.

As November is Sleep Comfort Month, I thought I would write one more post about sleep. I have written about my fibromyalgia and difficulties sleeping (here and here). I have various sleep strategies I use, including using lavender oil or spray. So recently at lunch with a few girlfriends, one of them mentioned she hadn’t slept through the night since March due to various things going on in her life (stress!). Someone said, “Have you tried Ambien?” It’s really a shame that some people think first about a prescription medication to mask the problem, rather than trying easy at-home strategies first. I mentioned Lavender, Melatonin and Valerian root to her as a natural alternatives to try, but my favorite is still lavender.

bee-and-lavender-with-quote-marion-mccristall
Picture from Quotesgram.com

Continue reading “Lavender Lullabies”

A Good Laugh and a Long Sleep

There’s an Irish proverb that goes, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”

It’s no secret that we live in a world of always-on, information overload. I started this post earlier this week while I was out of town for work, as I was caught up in a self-imposed state of sleep deprivation. Easy to do because: 1) I don’t sleep well when not in my own bed and 2) I am not receiving the evil eye from my husband for spending too much time on my phone or tablet. But yet thanks to our ‘smart’ devices, our attention span is now worse than a goldfish. Smart devices making us dumb and taking us away from precious sleep, both directly and indirectly. So what can we do?

Continue reading “A Good Laugh and a Long Sleep”