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”

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

Endometriosis Awareness Day

I write a lot about my fibromyalgia and chronic pain, but long before I was diagnosed with those issues I suffered a different kind of chronic pain. And it was the first of several times I have had to convince doctors that there was something wrong with me. Really wrong with me. Endometriosis is somewhat of a hidden disease, since it coincides with a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle and will often be written off as severe PMS or dysmenorrhea. But here is the definition, from the Office of Women’s Health:

Endometriosis happens when the lining of the uterus (womb) grows outside of the uterus. It may affect more than 11% of American women between 15 and 44.1 It is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s.” Continue reading “Endometriosis Awareness Day”

Fibromyalgia and Self-Love

Self-love, self-care, and balance don’t just happen. It takes strength and courage to put ourselves first.

January is Self-Love month and Get a Balanced Life month. (Or so I am told by one of those sites that lists all of the real and made-up holidays for the year.) Appropriate I would say for the first month of the new year. New year, new start, new resolutions to break bad habits. I love the beginning of the year when I start a new planner that is filled with blank pages, just waiting for me to fill them up with goals, plans, quotes. This year, I am starting a new system based on the bullet journal approach, but I am using a standard planner (I searched high and low for one I think will work for all areas of my life) because I didn’t want to spend the extra time (or energy) writing out all of my own calendars each week/month.

But back to the reason for my post… Self-love or self-care are important for everyone, as is balance in life. These all lead to less stress and better health and self-esteem, adding up to a happy, joyful, and fulfilling life. Sounds great, right? So why don’t we do these things more? The normal stresses of every day life take their toll. Work, family, kids’ activities, cooking, cleaning, shopping. They all add up. And at the end of the day,  you’re so tired from all of that you just want to crawl into bed rather than spend a little extra time pampering yourself. Sound about right?

“One woman filled with self love and self acceptance is a model more SUPER than any cover girl.”   

~ Amy Leigh Mercree Continue reading “Fibromyalgia and Self-Love”