“Were you able to get through it without crying?” I had just shared with my best friend that I told my Sunday Life Group February would be my last month teaching. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I need to concentrate on doing the things that will help me feel better — I need to re-commit to my HOPE plan. This is the dawn of a new day, and a new season in my life with fibromyalgia.
I say a new season, because as I mentioned in Lessons from the Grandpa Tree, progress with fibromyalgia isn’t linear; it’s filled with seasons of progress and setbacks.
This most recent season for me has been a little of both. My actual flares are fewer and further between, and don’t seem to last as long. I’m also stronger and able to do much more than I could a year ago. My day-to-day pain, however, has increased and gotten to the point that I absolutely have to do something about it. Almost without realizing it, because of the increased pain levels I became more and more withdrawn. I realized it was time for a change.
This next season may be a mixed bag also, but it will be one filled with purpose and a plan.
Have you ever been to Physical Therapy? I’ve been for several different rounds of PT due to injuries. Every time, it gets worse before it gets better. Now that may not be true for everyone, but it has been for me. My pain would initially increase as I started to exercise muscles I hadn’t exercised previously, but before long, as I kept up with doing them, I would start to feel better. That can often be the case when we start doing things that will help us feel and live better with fibromyalgia.
Now maybe I shouldn’t say that, because that certainly doesn’t inspire anyone to try something new, but I always like to know what to expect when I’m trying something new/different.
Knowing that it might get worse before it gets better, how can we keep going through those “worse” times?
Tips to Get Through the Initial Discomfort of Making Changes
- Remember WHY you’ve embarked on this path. We’ve talked about this before when we talked about making general wellness changes, but this is key to success. Knowing why we’re really changing our eating habits, establishing a sleep routine, or adding/increasing exercise can keep us going when it gets hard and we want to give up. Remember, our why needs to be something meaningful – keep asking the question “why” you want to do something until to get to the bottom of it.
- Keep track of your “wins.” It’s easy to get discouraged when we feel we’re not making progress, our pain or fatigue is increasing, or things simply become difficult. Making note of our small wins each day can help us realize we’re making progress even if it doesn’t feel like we are.
- Remember that slow and steady wins the race. It’s always important to make small changes that we can maintain and build on, but this is especially important when we live with chronic illness. Any major changes can induce a flare that can sideline us, so it’s important to make incremental changes.
- Keep in mind that you’re in it for the long haul. This goes hand-in-hand with the point above. We have to implement changes that we can maintain for the rest of our lives. In fact, finding those things we can do to positively impact our symptoms and maintain them indefinitely can ensure we have a better future.
- Listen to your body. It’s vital that we learn to listen to our bodies, to know what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not for us. We have to be attuned to how we feel and learn the difference between something that hurts and something that is just uncomfortable. Learning how our bodies feel and react is critical. Remember, when in doubt, consult your physician.
- Give yourself grace. We know that part of our “new normal” includes flares that can seriously curtail our activity. Rather than beating ourselves up over something we can’t help, we need to give ourselves the grace to step back as we need to. It can be a fine line – we have to make sure we’re not just using feeling badly as an excuse – but we need to allow ourselves the same grace we’d extend to someone else in our situation.
When we start taking action to improve our lives with fibromyalgia, things can sometimes feel worse before they get better. If we can find ways to get through the normal discomfort of making changes, we can improve our symptoms long-term. Though we may never be “cured” we can engage in activities that can help us thrive, regardless of our circumstances.
Of course, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, but I will anyway…. Always talk to your medical team about any changes you want to make to ensure what you plan to do is safe for you.
Have you had to work through discomfort in order to do the things that make you feel better? What helped you most? Please share!