Learning to Listen to Your Body When You Have Fibromyalgia https://reclaiminghopewellness.com

Christmas Cookies and Fibromyalgia: Learning To Listen To Your Body


“I’m running on hot chocolate and willpower right now,” I said to my husband. It was Monday morning and we were on the way to the store to pick up a couple of items I needed for baking. I said I wasn’t going to do it this year, but once again, I found myself just trying to get through “the next thing.” It’s not that I was doing all that much; it’s just that with fibromyalgia, you have to space out what you do to try not to cause a flare, and I didn’t really have that much time between things so that I could space them out. I was starting to feel stressed that I wouldn’t be able to get everything done and I could feel the fatigue starting to set in. Each day I would pray for enough strength to get through whatever the day held. I’m happy to report that I’ve got everything done now except for some gift wrapping and the couple of dishes I have to fix for Christmas dinner. Now I can sit back and enjoy the next couple of days, reflecting on the reason we celebrate and enjoying time with family.

I usually do a pretty good job of guarding my schedule and pacing myself so that I don’t overdo it, but sometimes I just have to push through and hope the price isn’t too steep. Of course, this is a choice I make. In this case, baking cookies to send to our kids, knowing how much they enjoy them each year, was worth it to me. I managed to bake three kinds of cookies Monday, and because I did pay attention to what my body was telling me and gave myself time to rest between batches, I wasn’t even that tired by the time they were finished.

Living with fibromyalgia (and I suspect any other chronic illness) is a continual learning process, and progress is definitely not linear. As I talked about in the post Lessons From the Grandpa Tree, sometimes you may be getting stronger without even realizing it. Learning to pace yourself is one aspect of living well with fibromyalgia. How do we figure out how to do that? By listening to our bodies. I used to tell my personal training clients that you have to listen to your body. This takes on added importance when you live with fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses because by paying attention to what your body is telling you, you may be able to detect the early warning signs of a flare and do what you need to do to lessen its severity.

The bottom line is that you have to find what works for you, and paying attention to what your body is telling you can help you figure that out. I talked about my “pushing through” some of the things I needed to get done but for some people that might not be an option. I have only learned how much I can push and what I need to do to lessen my chances of a flare by trial and error. It continues to be a learning process, but I’m able to read my body’s signals better now.

Maybe you’re still in the learning process too. If you are, I’d like to encourage you to be patient with yourself as you learn about your illness and how your body reacts to things. You may not be able to predict how things are going to go, but by learning to pay attention to the subtle signals your body sends, you learn what you can and can’t do, and you learn the best way to manage your energy and pain levels.

Have you learned to recognize the “early warning” signs? How do you handle busy times like this?





  1. I think by planning ahead and doing things as early as possible works for me, and things like ordering presents online and like you said listening to your body really helps. I definitely had to step back a little this year, no handmade cards or gifts, but hopefully people understand. Hope you have a lovely Christmas

    1. Thanks for sharing Beverley! Planning ahead definitely makes a difference, doesn’t it? I also try to do some things early, but somehow, I still end up with a bunch of things to do all at once. :o) I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  2. I am exactly where you are today! I have two dishes to put together for Christmas… well another three for my home but all doable! And about 5 more gifts to wrap. I have been down with a nasty flare, so besides the getting back up fogginess that remains… I believe now that I flared ALREADY I can just focus on the last few things, going slow and relaxing in between each chore. I hope. (Are their any exercises you can do for a double chin? Anything to firm up that area? I used to do the vowels exercise… just wondering since you were a trainer?) ~Kim

    1. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with a flare, but I’m glad you’re starting to feel better. I wish I could tell you what to do about a double chin – believe me, if I knew how to get rid of one other than cosmetically I’d be all over it – but I don’t know of any effective exercises for that area. Sometimes they reduce with fat loss, but at our *ahem* young age, sometimes it’s more due to a loss of elasticity in our skin. So sorry my friend. I hope you have a wonderful, relaxed Christmas!

  3. I think you did incredibly well with the cookie baking, I take my hat off to you Terri! More recently, I’m trying think of how to pace and manage things better, but my best intentions seem to go out the window more often than not. That said, I did a small amount of gift wrapping today, and I’ll do the second part tomorrow, rather than leave it all until Christmas eve (which is a little sad as that was my one Christmas tradition I liked to do, but I know it’s not too sensible). Learning to listen to our bodies is so very important – thank you for the much-needed reminder!!
    Caz x

    1. Thanks so much Caz! I’m glad you were able to get a jump-start on your gift wrapping. I know it’s hard sometimes when we have to change up some of our long-held traditions, but at least now you know that if you end up not feeling well on Christmas Eve you don’t have all that work staring at you…. I usually have some last-minute things to wrap on Christmas Eve, but this year I’m really trying to get everything done beforehand. I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing Christmas!

  4. Thank you for posting. Enjoy Christmas and all the blessings! You are such a blessing to your family & friends.

      1. Being a widower, I stay home Christmas. Don’t want to impose myself into another family’s Christmas celebration. I am starting to get accustomed to a quiet holiday at home when the church programs are over. I am blessed with twenty-nine years of wonderful holiday memories with my Sweetheart … so I am never truly alone. g

      2. I’m sure there are a lot of families who would love to set a place for you at their Christmas table. I’m glad you had so many wonderful years with your wife, and that you are part of the faith community so you have the reminder of what Christmas is all about. God bless you!

  5. I found it hard early on with my RA not to jump on the days when I had a rare day of energy and go mad doing things. Now I know by pacing myself every day, my energy is more balanced and have more good days. I’ve learnt to listen to my body so it doesn’t have to scream at me anymore!!

Please tell me what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.