We’re getting snow today….or maybe a mix of sleet, rain and snow…. We’re hearing three different things from three different news outlets. We definitely have a winter storm coming in, but the forecasters don’t seem to know exactly what path, and therefore what type of precipitation this storm is actually going to take yet.
Sometimes that’s how I feel with my body – I can feel a storm coming, but I don’t know what form it’s going to take when it gets here. Have you ever been there?
As I thought about the unpredictable nature of this illness and about the rocky road I’ve traveled with it for the last six years, I started thinking about the top three tips I’d give anyone else who had the fibromyalgia “storm” blow into their lives.
It’s hard to narrow it down to just three, but these are the three things that have had the most impact for me.
Learn as much as you can about your illness. Now, sometimes we have to walk a fine line with this, because we don’t want to become obsessed with all the things that ‘could’ happen with our illnesses. Fibromyalgia often has many co-existing conditions and we could get ourselves into trouble if we start thinking the worst and expecting something else to pop up at any minute.
It is important to be informed though. Fibromyalgia and many other chronic illnesses are not really that well-understood, even by some in the medical community. We are our own best advocates. If we’re informed and proactive, we can work with our medical team to develop the treatment protocol that works best for us.
Try to maintain, in general, a positive attitude. You’ve heard that saying that “attitude is everything.” It really is. Now I’m not saying that we can heal ourselves just by having a positive attitude, but I will say that having a negative one can make us feel worse.
When I say ‘positive attitude’ I’m not talking about rainbows and unicorns…. I’m talking about taking a realistic view of things, looking at what we can do day-to-day to improve how we feel (dynamic optimism), and realizing that we can live a full life in spite of our illnesses.
I know it’s impossible to be positive all the time. Believe me, I’ve had plenty of those days where I’ve felt beat up, beat down, and rather hopeless, but I’ve learned that these feelings are normal when dealing with a chronic illness. It’s okay to have those occasional days where we’re just ‘not okay.’ If these feelings persist, though, please reach out for help.
Don’t isolate yourself. This is a tough one – when we don’t feel well, we tend to withdraw, and for many of us with chronic pain conditions, we tend to avoid making plans with family or friends because we never know when we might have to cancel.
Maintaining meaningful relationships is a huge factor in our ability to thrive in spite of our illnesses though. According to Harvard Health, our “social connections…influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”
Remember the positive attitude we discussed above? Well, having strong social connections can help us with that also. It’s much easier to maintain a positive attitude when we feel supported and are able to provide support to others.
I realize that many of us aren’t able to get out and see friends and family in person as often as we’d like, but with the wonders of the modern world, we can maintain our current relationships, and even make new friends. Whether it’s in person, via telephone, or online, we need to put a premium on maintaining meaningful relationships if we want to live our best life possible.
As I said earlier, it’s hard to narrow it down to just three things but I’d say for me, these three have been the most impactful.
What would your top three tips be? Please share! …. And if you end up doing a blog post about them, please share your link in the comments so we can go read it!😊