Mindfulness and fibromyalgia

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In a previous post I mentioned that mindful meditation has been proven to help the symptoms of fibromyalgia. I was intrigued to explore this in more detail. 

How can mindfulness be described?

In a nutshell, it’s focusing our attention purely on the present moment. Doing this without letting the mind drift back to past memories or thinking about future events. Mindfulness is embracing the present with acceptance, without judgment.

The monkey mind

There are so many distractions for us to focus our mind on. To illustrate the monkey mind, try this exercise for a couple of minutes.

Focus your mind on your breathing.  Think about where you can feel movement in your chest from your breathing.  Concentrate on this area, for a few minutes. You will notice your thoughts stray, thinking about numerous things other than the breath.

These thoughts are from past or future experiences. The mind is rarely focused on the present. It jumps from one subject to another, like a monkey playing. This practice is called the monkey mind.

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Why should I try mindfulness?

Clinical researchers have carried out a number of tests which have shown that mindfulness can improve your overall health and wellbeing. For fibromyalgia sufferers the benefits can be:

  • lower stress levels 
  • lower depression
  • improve the quality of sleep 
  • reduce anxiety 
  • encourage positive thinking
  • alter the way the mind reacts to difficult situations 
  • improve decision making 

How do I start to practice mindfulness?

Start by focusing on your senses when you carry out your everyday routine. By thinking about the feel, touch, smell and the sound of everything you are experiencing. 

If you carry out a task such as washing the dishes, think about the heat of the water, the texture and feel of the plates, the scent of washing up liquid and the sound of water filling up the bowl. 

“If you have a regular daily routine build some time into it every day to practice mindfulness.”

You could try changing your daily activities. For example if you regularly go for a walk and always walk the same way; try changing the route to one your not as familiar with. Or try a completely new walk. 

By changing your routine to something different or new it will get your mind to focus on a familiar task in a different or new way.

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Thought watching 

If you find while you are concentrating on tasks thoughts interrupt you. Just observe them, try not to be side tracked by them.

Introduce a label for each thought that arises; ‘I’m nervous about a exam result’, label it ‘thought’, or a feeling ‘I feel worried’ label it ‘emotion’; and go back to the task you are carrying out.

This practice will help train the mind to not follow a thought and get sidetracked by it. Just observe thoughts without judgment, acknowledging them, and labelling them. Going back to the task.

Mindfulness meditation

Taking mindfulness a step further incorporating it into daily meditation practice can encourage the mind to work in a regular pattern.

Mindfulness meditation works by silently spending a few minutes every day thinking about one aspect of the body, such as breathing awareness and acknowledging thoughts, when they arise and bringing back attention to the breathing.

Have a look at my page on Meditation for more information about suggestions for meditation practice.

 

How do you stay positive and motivated with Fibromyalgia?

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It’s difficult when you have a long term condition like fibromyalgia. If you suffer from constant pain on a daily basis.

My most FAQ as a fibromyalgia sufferer is….

‘Why am I in pain again and what will make me feel better?’

In truth there’s no quick fix. It’s going to vary quite a bit from person to person what can help. 

“It could be time to try out a new hobby or something you have always wanted to but have never taken the time.”

I enjoy creating things as you all know in decoupage and crafts. Being absorbed by a hobby for me really lifts my spirits. Working on a project and seeing it through to completion is really exciting for me. 

Even writing my blog is a great way to help put things into perspective sometimes. 

“Personally I have found any form of distraction helps.” 

When my pain is very bad watching a film or tv program helps. Even though it is only for an hour or so; if I can be pain free just for an hour it’s really helpful. 

Listening to your favourite music, talking to friends or family, looking at photos and reading a gripping novel are all ways to distract the mind.

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I am lucky that I am able to work part time. I’ve found it helps me to some extent, as a distraction from pain. My job involves helping others and I find this is rewarding because it gives me a sense of purpose. I think if I did not work I would do some form of voluntary work, which involved helping others. 

Voluntary work is definitely worth considering if you are looking for a new challenge and it can be very rewarding.

It benefits both the worker and employer and lots of various roles exist. If you are disabled or housebound don’t rule it out because many roles exist for homeworkers.

A number of organisations can help you to find volunteer roles in the UK. 

The organisation Do-it offers lots of opportunities to volunteer, in areas nearby or from home.

What might you want to do?….

What’s your inspiration?……. 

Read me and #BecomeFibroAware

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Don’t you find, there’s always someone who starts a conversation with…

‘You know, I think I had fibromyalgia years ago.  I was sick for months with pain as a child……but now I’m fine’.  

I get exasperated when I hear someone say something like this; I want to say to them,

So, you think you know all about fibromyalgia?……

But I just remain calm and agree with them 

O, yes you are probably right’, 

thinking to myself, why did I agree when I know there completely wrong? I now realise they’re not as clever as they think they are!

Fibromyalgia is an illness with NO CURE, it’s not possible that you had it ‘years ago and are now cured’.  

The best doctors in the world have not found a cure for fibromyalgia yet. Look it up on google as, ‘fibromyalgia cure’, it will say there’s no cure.

For anyone who is confused and does not know anything about fibromyalgia,

I will run through the main symptoms.

The main symptoms are:

Pain throughout the whole body 

Joints and muscles feel stiff

Quality of sleep can be poor

Feeling tired and fatigued 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Extreme Sensitivity 

Cognitive problems, feeling confused, or dazed, sometimes called Fibro fog

Headaches

Depression 

Anxiety 

Painful periods in women 

The symptoms can vary from person to person.

Symptoms can get better or worse from time to time.

Factors that influence this are:

  • the amount of stress you are experiencing 
  • how much daily exercise you have
  • and changes in climate and temperature 

Further information is available on the NHS website.              

If you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, consult your doctor or health professional.

Going back to the fact there’s no cure.

I’ve lived with fibromyalgia for 14 years and found some times are really tough.

I have been able to boost my general health through diet, exercise  and meditation  .

The positives are my symptoms are still there, but have improved greatly since I was first diagnosed.

If you would like to read more about how I achieved this have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help or contact me via the link below.

I appear normal but…

 

I have an illness that’s not visible.

Although you cannot see it

For me #fibromyalgia is real.

It causes me #chronic pain and #fatigue.

The pain can be debilitating and constant.

Some days it can get better or worse.

It’s altered my life choices

I’m not asking for sympathy

Just empathy

This week it’s #fibromyalgia awareness week

If you’ve never heard of fibromyalgia or know very little about it. Please take a few minutes to read this.

What is fibromyalgia?

Briefly, it affects the skeletal muscles throughout the body, causing varying degrees of pain.

The pain ranges in severity from day to day and it is affected by temperature,

stress

and the amount of physical activity carried out.

Fibromyalgia sufferers commonly experience a range of different types of pain.

The pain can range from a sharp stabbing pain,

an ache

and a burning pain.

Other symptoms that can be experienced are

fatigue,

poor sleep quality,

stiffness,

IBS,

headaches,

cognitive problems

“Fibro fog”,

depression,

dizziness,

anxiety

and painful periods.

Have a look at the NHS description of fibromyalgia for more in depth information about the condition.

Invisible Illness and Fibromyalgia 

One huge difficulty of living with fibromyalgia is it’s an invisible illness; others assume you are well because there is no physical evidence of being ill.

In my personal struggle with fibromyalgia this single fact has caused me the most stress over the 14 years I have had it.

You may ask, if you know someone or meet someone with fibromyalgia. What should I do?  Showing them compassion and learn about their symptoms can make a difference. Just taking the time to talk about it with them will help.

If you have just been diagnosed and are trying to find links to support groups and the online community. Have a look at the organisations below and also Facebook groups.

UK Fibromyalgia is a brilliant site that covers a wide range of information about fibromyalgia.

Also

Fibromyalgia Association  is a registered charity that provides information and help to sufferers.

 

 

Hot summer heat…What does it mean for our future?

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Our carbon footprint and the damage we are causing to the environment has been publicised widely this year.

This summer has been difficult for me to live through with wildly fluctuating temperatures, here in the UK. (If you don’t follow me, I have fibromyalgia.)

It’s been so hot in the UK this week; temperatures have been up to 32C. I have no air conditioning. Back in July it reached 37C.

Me and my computer 💻  are completely frazzled.  I’ve decided to have a break and try again next week.

In the meantime….

I have some questions for you to think about.

Why is it hotter in the UK this year than I can remember in my lifetime?

Why have all records for heat been broken this year in Paris, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands?

I don’t think you have to look far to reach a conclusion to these questions:

I found a comprehensive answer on the Greenpeace website.

“It’s the use of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas– that’s the main problem. Burning them has released carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which were locked deep within the Earth. Because of this, the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has rocketed. It’s now at levels not seen in millions of years, before humans even existed. Carbon dioxide traps heat from the sun and as a result our planet is now warming fast. 

The UK’s top ten warmest years have occurred since 2002, and this trend is set to continue.”

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Climate change is happening now 

It’s a crisis facing the whole world

For us and future generations

We can do something now

By making changes to how we live

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What can we do to help reduce our carbon emissions?

Have a look at this UN Carbon Footprint calculator.

What have I done?

I drive a hybrid car.

I’ve changed my energy tariff for a green energy deal.

I’ve stopped using plastic bottles for my water drinks and use a recyclable bottle.

I leave you with this question to think about….

What could you do to change your carbon footprint?

For more ideas have a look at the following links:

Friends of the Earth UK

Greenpeace UK