Sunrise through trees with text overlay: Dawn of a New Day: Making Changes with Fibromyalgia

Dawn of a New Day: Making Changes with Fibromyalgia

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 Almost without realizing it, because of the increased pain levels I became more and more withdrawn.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!

Blessings,

~Terri

Sunrise through the trees with text overlay: Dawn of a New Day: Making Changes with Fibromyalgia
Sunrise through the trees with text overlay: Dawn of a New Day: Making Changes with Fibromyalgia

20 comments

  1. Very timely blog that applies to life changes in general. For example as I start to schedule time for exercise this month, it’s initially a chore and I need extra motivation like a buddy to keep me from skipping the planned activity. Proud of you for controlling your time in order to manage your health. Sometimes we have to give up something before we can grab new opportunities. I know you will miss teaching but I also know you know your body better than anyone else. Proud of you. Also keep us posted how it’s going. 🙂 sharing inspires me to keep going too.

    1. Thank you so much Sarah! That’s a great point about this applying to life changes in general…. Thanks for the support, and for being my very ‘bestest friend’ for more years than we’ll mention. 😊 We’ll both keep going with our changes and maybe we’ll be ready for a little hike next time you guys visit. Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

  2. so proud of you Terri for focusing on what YOU need to do…….I am sure this was a very difficult decision but putting yourself first must be a priority. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Wendi! It WAS a difficult decision, but I know it’s the right one for now. I know I’ll have other opportunities to serve and make a difference. I just love my ladies so much, and I really didn’t want to let them down. They were exceptionally understanding, so that helped a lot. Sending hugs your way!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Cynthia! I’m glad to hear celebrating the wins helps you also. I think it’s easy to forget how far we’ve actually come sometimes, and celebrating those wins can help us remember. Sending hugs!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Marie! Could you explain what you mean by pre-charging? I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re talking about, and it might be something I want to adopt as well. Blessings to you sweet friend! Sending hugs!

      1. Of course Terri, I got it from one of your posts, namely to rest – charge up my reserves prior to an event. It was new to me, something I had never done before, always recharging after an event instead. I may have named it incorrectly but it’s a very helpful practice!

      2. Oh, thanks so much for explaining Marie! I really like your term for it too – I’m going to remember that! I’m so glad you’ve found it helpful too. Learning to work with our bodies is a lot of trial and error, isn’t it? I think that’s why it’s so important to keep trying things to see what works best for us. Hugs!

  3. I have just this morning met my new Pain team at the hospital and although I thought I paced myself they say I need to think a bit more about myself instead of keep pushing myself to please everyone else. Your tips to change things are perfect. Thanks. X

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Bar! Isn’t it funny that we think we’re doing the things we need to do, then realize maybe we’re not…. I hope you’re able to find a way to make that move to thinking more of yourself. Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

  4. Excellent point about the things that we need or could benefit from often make us feel worse before it gets better, and I think that can apply mentally and physically. Especially if you’re very much stuck in your comfort zone (which I’ve found increasingly because that’s what illness and pain can do to you) any change can be a challenge and it can be uncomfortable. Remembering why you’re doing it and celebrating your wins, no matter how small, are so important to keep you going. I hope you can keep all of this in mind for your next chapter after your time with the group ends. I know it must be really sad to have to let it go for now, but you should be proud for taking that step.  ♥
    Caz xx

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Caz! I know what you mean about being stuck in your comfort zone. I had gotten to that point a couple of years ago – you spend so much time trying to manage your symptoms, when you finally find something that’s even ‘kind of’ working, you just work to maintain that. What helped me was taking very TINY steps outside my comfort zone (like just sticking a toe out). Eventually my zone started to expand. Thanks for your support for my next chapter – I know I have to make some changes, but I’m so thankful for you and everyone else that are willing to walk beside me. Sending lots of love and hugs!

  5. Well done, Terri, for doing what’s right for you. It’s so hard to give up the things we love, but sometimes we really have no option. We have to do what’s best for us.

    I love your last point about giving yourself grace. I think most of us have a terrible habit of beating ourselves up.

    1. Thank you so much Liz! You’re right – giving up the things we love can be difficult, but it really is necessary for me at this point. I agree with you that most of us beat ourselves up far too often, and all for something we have no control over. Blessings to you sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

Please tell me what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.