When pain and fatigue set in, don't be afraid to say "no." You don't have to accept every request for your time. Learn how to prioritize your time so you can focus on feeling better.
You only have so much energy, so don't waste time on unnecessary activities -- especially when you're not feeling well. Prioritize your day with these tips:
* Do only the things that must be done that day.
* Ask yourself, "Could someone else do this?" If so, ask for help.
* Schedule exercise and rest just as you would any other appointment.
Pain isn't always obvious. When you're hurting and need help from family or friends, ask for it. Don't expect that people will automatically know what you need. Also try to be honest and open when you feel angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed by your pain. If this isn't easy for you, a qualified therapist can help you work on ways to communicate.
Stress can make your pain feel worse and make it hard to sleep well. Think of how you can get control over the stress factors in your life:
* Ask your employer about flex time or working from home.
* Let someone else do it! Ask for help from family and friends.
* Let yourself off the hook. So your house isn't perfectly clean or your family ate leftovers this week. It's more important to your loved ones that you feel better.
By the time you've attended to all the other responsibilities in your life, there's not much time left over. Carve out a little of that time to do at least one thing for yourself. Get a massage, read a good book, soak in a warm bath, spend time with family or friends, or just take a nap. Put this time on your schedule, just like you would any other responsibility.
You're learning to accept the fact that you can't do everything you once could. Now you can help your employer understand that too. Consider telling your manager about your condition, and ask for help balancing your workload so you don't feel overworked and overtired. Ask about options such as redesigning your workday, scheduling in extra rest periods, or working from home.
Recognize that you may not be able to keep your house sparkling clean on your own. Ask family members to chip in and help. Make a schedule so everyone knows what they need to do. If you can't get help with the cleaning, at least break up each housekeeping task into smaller segments so it's manageable. Take breaks in between tasks so you don't overdo it and wear yourself out.
It's perfectly fine to put your own needs first. Don't feel bad if you sometimes have to cancel plans or miss an important event. Explain your condition to your family and friends before you commit to do something, and let them know you may have to back out at the last minute if you're having a bad pain day.
Caring for Others
Caring for an elderly or sick family member or friend is a wonderful, unselfish gesture. Yet, if you don't take care of yourself first, caring for another can quickly drain your time and energy. Make sure to leave enough time to rest, relax, and follow your doctor's prescribed treatments. If you do what you need to manage your own symptoms first, then you'll be more able to help others.
Sometimes you may need to remind your friends and family how you feel and why it's hard for you to do certain tasks on some days. Fibromyalgia is often called an "invisible illness," because other people may not see your pain and fatigue, even when you're having a flare. Ask for their understanding, and their help.