The secrets to better #sleep…

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A few simple changes can make a difference to your quality of sleep. I know this very well from first hand experience, having suffered from poor unrefreshing sleep for years.

After weeks of not sleeping the body’s functions become impaired making it extremely difficult to function in a normal way. (Whatever normal is for a fibromyalgia sufferer). 

“If you’re thinking, I don’t have fibromyalgia, it’s still worth giving these suggestions a try.”

“Insomnia, fatigue and pain are all part of life if you live with fibromyalgia.” The symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as fatigue and pain are all made worse with poor quality sleep.

Over time I’ve found some solutions that have helped me get a better nights sleep. Obviously, there’s no one size fits all with these suggestions. That said, it’s still worth giving them a go. Just being aware what might work is useful.

On occasions I still find I have some problems sleeping but I can solve these more effectively than previously.

Common problems experienced range from:

  • getting to sleep
  • staying asleep until morning
  • waking during the night
  • getting back to sleep after waking up

Have a look at the following suggestions for improving your sleep

  • Go for regular exercise every morning, for example a walk 

  • Check your bedroom temperature and lighting are beneficial for sleep 

  • Adjust your bed and pillows to make it as comfy as possible 

  • Invest in a electric blanket to warm the bed before you get in and help relax muscles 

  • Avoid smoking, over eating or drinking caffeine directly before bedtime 

My top tips for getting to sleep

  • Help your mind wind down for the day
  • Get into a regular sleep routine for adjusting your Circadian rhythm, try to get up at the same time every day
  • Turn off all devices that emit blue light an hour before bedtime
  • Read a relaxing book or listen to gentle music
  • Try a meditation, like yoga nidra or one for helping you to get to sleep 
  • Use ear plugs and a eye mask to block unwanted noise and light
  • Get into a comfortable sleep position and then try a relaxation routine 

Whilst you are asleep make sure your room doesn’t have anything that will wake you like a mobile phone.

A pet that sleeps in your bedroom and disturbs you in the night, should be encouraged to sleep elsewhere.

If you wake in the night and cannot get back to sleep get up and find something that makes you drowsy like reading or a yoga nidra sleep meditation then return to bed.

If you find by morning you have not had enough sleep go back to bed and sleep for a while longer. If you catch up with a couple of hours sleep every night you will see the difference after a few months.

I recently read several articles which mentioned vitamin D (sunlight) exposure daily in the morning shortly after rising can help and mindfulness meditation both improved the quality of sleep in fibromyalgia sufferers. 

I believe this to be true because I usually get up and do a daily walk every morning and this regulates my circadian rhythm over the next 24 hours. It’s more important to get up at the same time every day than the time I go to sleep. 

I’ve found improvements in my concentration and ability to switch off at night after practicing regular Meditation on a daily basis. Explore meditation apps for sessions covering mindfulness and sleep. Have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help pages on  Meditation and  Exercise

If you have insomnia and it’s not necessarily fibromyalgia related, get it checked out by your doctor or health professional. If they prescribe sleeping pills it would be advisable to be referred to see a specialist sleep consultant.

Have a look at the  NHS sleep self assessment  to determine how good your sleep is.  From this link you will find some helpful information about sleep.

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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Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

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.

 

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.

Revisiting Mindfulness

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I’ve neglected my meditation practice recently; getting back into it proved straight away how helpful it is.

If you have never tried mindfulness or meditation join me now and find out how it can help you and perhaps try it out.

In a previous post I mentioned that mindful meditation has been proven to help the symptoms of fibromyalgia and also help to calm a active mind. 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.

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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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

 

Finding relaxation techniques to help de-stress…

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with fibromyalgia. Although if your reading this without fibromyalgia the techniques are still worthwhile to try; we all need to know how to relax.

The constant pain experienced with fibromyalgia makes every day tasks more difficult to do.

Simple things like preparation of a meal and shopping for food are tasks that become challenging.

I choose simple meals to cook that have a minimum of preparation. Buying some vegetables ready to cook; like butternut squash can speed up prep time and help to avoid struggling to cut them up.

Having my shopping delivered has made a big difference and can help me budget easier.

Like most things you find your own way to getting these jobs done.

My experience….

When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia I had pain in my neck and shoulder constantly.

I remember thinking I’d do anything to get rid off the pain.  I was constantly visiting my doctor for help with various ailments, due to fibromyalgia. It was suggested I try physiotherapy.  I went along and was given various exercises to carry out along with relaxation techniques.

The relaxation exercises were really helpful, although it took a while to learn how to do them properly and get some benefit from them.

Why should I try relaxation?

Just the thought of being able to relax can seem out of reach if your in pain. Finding ways to de stress and relax is something that can make a difference.

Our bodies are under a lot of stress constantly and I found this stress had a big impact on how severe the pain was.  When I was able to relax the pain was not as severe.

How do I relax?

There a number of techniques you can try and it’s a good idea to try more than one technique, as you may respond better to certain ones. It’s more beneficial to practice for as long as possible, up to 20 minutes.

What can I try?

Breathing Exercises

To do this properly, find a quiet place you can sit for a while. Start to focus your mind on your breathing. Take long, deep breaths, try not to rush these. Breathe from your belly and focus your attention on the sound and feel of the breath. By concentrating on breathing it can take your mind away from other thoughts. Check with your health professional to see if this is suitable for you, if you have experienced breathing difficulties.

Body Scan

Try this technique by taking a few deep breathes first. Now focus the mind on the body as a whole and scan it from top to bottom for areas that seem tense. Think about each area in turn and imagine each part in turn, releasing tension in the muscles. When you have completed each area. Try another full body scan again, the tense areas should feel much more relaxed. This technique helps your mind to become more aware of areas that need attention.

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. Take a look at my post.

Visualisation Therapy

To carry out this exercise successful you need to concentrate the mind on places and images you find calming and encourage positive thoughts. Looking at photos from the past or remembering places you have visited could help. There are apps that you can download to help with this technique.

Yoga

Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that combines controlled breathing with movement and postures. It’s a good choice if you want to improve your flexibility. It’s recommended to start by joining a group to learn the basic poses. Check with your doctor first to see if they think it’s suitable for you.

Most of these techniques can be carried out almost anywhere to help reduce stress and concentrate the mind.

As with all forms of exercise check with your doctor first it you are not sure if an exercise is suitable for you.

You can find further help and information on the following resources:

NHS Breathing Exercises for Stress

Mindfulness Meditation

NHS Yoga

Spotlight on Mindfulness for fibromyalgia

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This week, I thought it would be worthwhile spending time discovering how mindfulness can help and perhaps trying it out.

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.

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.

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.