Don’t Let an Extended Flare Stop Your Progress

It happens every January. After a couple of months of pushing myself in order to enjoy the holidays, I experience a flare that lasts most of the month. Thankfully, my flares are very seldom the “send you to bed unable to do anything” kind anymore. They do, however, curtail my activity and delay progress toward my goals.

As I mentioned in The Year of You, this year, I plan to concentrate on the things that are going to help me long-term, both with my Fibromyalgia and my general wellness. This little setback is slowing me down, but I’m not going to let it get me down.

I’ve had to learn to accept that flares are a part of living with Fibromyalgia. They will continue to occur from time to time, but I don’t have to give up on moving forward with my Self-Care Plan.

Acceptance is a very powerful tool when we live with chronic pain. It allows us to realize that although things don’t always go according to plan, we can work around any setbacks and keep moving forward.

But how do we move forward when we don’t feel up to doing the things we need to do?

Here are a few things I’ve found helpful:

Keeping an Extended Flare From Stopping Progress

  • Take the time you need to rest. It can be tempting to just “push on through” when we’re experiencing an extended flare, but we have to allow ourselves to rest and recover. It may feel as if we’re doing nothing but in fact, we’re providing what our bodies need most.
  • Concentrate on the things you do feel like doing. When our flares keep us from doing some things, it can feel as if we can’t do anything. It’s important to figure out what we can do and do those things. That can keep us from getting into a negative headspace.
  • Don’t give up on trying to move forward even if you have to take tiny steps. It’s so easy to become discouraged and just give up on even trying to move forward. I’ve found that for me, the best thing I can do is just take tiny little steps until I feel up to taking bigger ones.
  • Don’t compare what you can do right now to what others can do. This is important all the time, but it’s absolutely critical when we’re experiencing a flare. It’s too easy to think about all the things we’re not able to do instead of appreciating what we can do.
  • Eat well. Fueling our bodies well is important. It might not shorten our flare, but it may help reduce fatigue and will keep us as healthy as possible while we’re going through it.
  • Find some things to do that you can enjoy within your pain and fatigue levels. Having something we enjoy doing can help distract us from the pain and give us something to think about other than how miserable we’re feeling.
  • Remember that you’ve been here before. Sometimes these extended flares take us by surprise and make us feel as if we’re always going to feel absolutely horrible. Although we deal with the symptoms of our Fibromyalgia or other chronic illness daily, we don’t always feel as awful as we do during a flare. Reminding ourselves that we’ve been here before and survived it can help us adjust our attitude.

Experiencing flares is never fun, and when they’re extended, it can be downright disheartening. We can start to think we’re never going to feel better or make any progress.

It’s important to be kind to ourselves during these times. As I talked about in What Do You Do When Chronic Illness Stops You in Your Tracks, we have to make taking care of ourselves and getting through it a priority. We also need to remember that flares are just a part of living with Fibromyalgia – they don’t stick around forever. They may slow down progress, but they don’t have to stop it completely.

What helps you the most when you’re experiencing an extended flare? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

12 comments

  1. Like you, I try to remind myself that a flare is temporary. It’s hard, though. There’s a little voice in my head that tells me I might not ever feel better than I do at that moment. Even after 32 years, the flares frighten me.

    1. Oh Janet, I know exactly what you mean…. The same thing happens to me, especially when the flare drags on for a while. That’s why I’ve found it so important to remind myself that I’ve been there before. You’d think that after all these years, I’d get used to them, but they still take me by surprise at first. Once I kind of go through my mental checklist and remind myself that they’re part of the ebb and flow of Fibro, I’m able to settle down. Blessings to you sweet friend!

  2. Really good points. I find extended flares, or actually just day to day with fibro, annoying; it’s frustrating having a to do list you can’t get through and you can never quite catch up, and it gets disheartening, too. The longer the flare, the more you fall behind, the bigger the mental impact sometimes. You’ve made some excellent points, especially about not comparing and remembering you’ve been there/done that before, so you can ride out the latest rough period, too. I think I need to do more to remind myself that it’s not my fault and it’s okay to take the time to rest and fall behind on the lists. It’s just easier said than done (I’m finding it especially so since trying to go self employed earning next to nothing but being constantly working, which is probably rather pointless as I make myself more poorly). Then guilt kicks in if I’m not busy and doing stuff.. vicious cycle. Sorry, rambling again! Great post, Kim  ♥ xx

    1. Thanks for sharing Caz. I know what you mean about the mental impact of feeling you can never catch up. It definitely can be disheartening. Being kind to yourself, realizing that none of this is your fault, is so critical. I know I’ve said this before, but you can’t blame yourself for something you have no control over. Sending lots of love and gentle hugs your way sweet friend!

    1. Thanks so much Kim. When I’m flaring and don’t feel like doing much of anything, it’s easy to get down on myself. I found that looking at the little things I can do while I rest and recover helps me mentally. Blessings to you!

  3. Such a good post. I’ve lived with pain for most of my life therefore you’d think I should know how to cope. And most of the time, I do. Then occasionally, it just hits like a ton of bricks, I try to ignore it and push through and just end up feeling worse and shoulder a whole load of guilt. I guess it’s proof that I am human. Your post was timely.

    1. Thanks so much Liz! I know what you mean when you say “you’d think I should know how to cope.” I’ve been in pain for most of my life due to various issues, but the flares still take me by surprise sometimes. I think that’s probably true for a lot of us. That’s why I love our chronic illness community – we have the opportunity to know we’re not alone and to share what works for us. Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

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