Thursday, April 4, 2019

4 Ways To Minimize Stress Vulnerability In Fibromyalgia

April is stress awareness month and I can’t think of a better time to review how stress interferes with wellness. There is a promise of new growth that encourages us to seek ways to minimize stress by managing our reactions and making better choices.

#1 Know the effects

We have all experienced the effects of stress. In fibromyalgia it can:

·        Interfere with sleep.
·        Make our pain worse.
·        Hijack our ability to cope with pain.
·        Cause autonomic nervous system problems.
·        Make comorbid or co-existing disorders harder to manage.

… and more

So, if we ask, - Does fibromyalgia make me vulnerable to stress? - The answer is yes.

#2 Identify manifestations of stress

How stress manifests itself may vary between each of us, and each of us may experience certain symptoms according to the event surround it. But, generally stress can cause or be part of:

·        Anxiety and/or depression.
·        Irritability.
·        Changes in vital signs and body temperature. This is particularly important to when dealing with the autonomic effects of fibromyalgia.
·        Increased pain.
·        Muscle tension, spasm, or dysfunction.
·        Headache.
·        Fatigue.
·        Gastrointestinal problems, like GERD or IBS.
·        Teeth grinding.
·        Disordered sleep.
·        Forgetfulness.
·        Immune system problems, like poor healing.
·        Tremors.
·        Changes in speech.

… and others that may be specific to you.

#3 Be aware of stress behaviors

While a certain amount of stress can be beneficial by temporarily improving our focus, chronic stress is a game changer. The behaviors we develop in response to chronic stress might include:

·        Fear and loss of control.
·        Impulsive behavior, such as stress eating, unnecessary spending, or taking risks.
·        Mood swings.
·        Avoidance of physical activity.
·        Inability to focus.
·        Difficulty setting and achieving goals.
·        Making poor decisions.
·        Interference in relationships.

Knowing our behavioral response to stress is important for us to set achievable goals and develop an effective plan for dealing with chronic stress.

#4 Focus on a personal strategy

Those of us living with fibromyalgia understand the consequences of stress. But, what are some things we can do to promote focus, minimize pain, improve sleep, and reduce the effects of stress gone awry.

·        Make a stress response plan with measurable action-oriented goals.
·        Make a real effort to get back to a hobby.
·        Find ways to explore nature. This is particularly helpful for me, because I can use my hobby of photography and writing poetry.
·        Celebrate accomplishments with family and friends.
·        Maintain a healthy diet.
·        Surround yourself with people who encourage one another.
·        Use mindfulness techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, creative visualization, etc.
·        Practice deep breathing.
·        Incorporate bedtime rituals to promote sleep.
·        Listen to music that has a calming effect on us.
·        Move around. When I realize I am drowning in stress, I get physical. I organize closets, clean out the refrigerator, take a walk, go through old computer files, practice Tai Chi, etc. I highly suggest this.
·        Write in our journal.
·        Get a massage or other bodywork.
·        Manage environmental triggers.
·        Find a therapist who understands chronic pain and can provide useful tools for reducing stress, like guided meditation, hypnosis, and biofeedback.

* If stress is interfering with your normal activities of daily living, it’s time to seek professional help.


"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose
one thought over another."
~ William James, American philosopher and psychologist

We can’t always control our stress triggers, particularly when living with the unpredictability of fibromyalgia, but we can control our response. The more practiced we become, the quicker balance is restored.

Additional Reading:

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

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