Toolbox full of tools with text overlay: Knowing Your Body, One More Tool in Your Fibromyalgia Toolbox

Knowing Your Body, One More Tool in Your Fibromyalgia Toolbox

I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck and kicked by a mule. I’m not sure in which order. That was what I said to my hubby when he asked how I was feeling Friday morning. An hour later, I was out cutting lettuce in the garden. One thing I’ve learned with fibromyalgia is that the way I wake up doesn’t necessarily indicate what the rest of my day is going to be like.

When I first started experiencing fibromyalgia symptoms, I would wake up in pain, so I would be very careful not to do anything that might worsen my pain. The problem with this is that I would end up trapped in an inactivity/pain cycle that was hard to break. I was practically bedridden for months.

As time goes on, I learn more and more about how my body works in this ‘new normal’ so I know when I can go ahead and do things and when I need to rest.

I’d encourage anyone who lives with fibromyalgia or really, any chronic illness, to be purposeful about learning about your body.

This is really the thing that allows us to reduce the pain and fatigue while still living a full and purposeful life.

With our symptoms being so varied and unpredictable, sometimes we feel we’re living in some alien body. Learning how our bodies react to different activities and external stressors can help us structure our fibromyalgia care plan, pace ourselves, and avoid the ‘boom and bust’ cycle we can experience when we overdo things.

Sometimes we feel we have to ‘fight’ our uncooperative bodies, but as I talked about in Learning Acceptance, when we can accept the limitations our bodies impose, we can start to work with them to learn what’s beneficial for us.

So where do we start this learning process?

This may different for each person.

For some people, a journal is an exceptionally useful tool. Some of the things you may want to keep track of are:

  • Symptoms. As you know, fibromyalgia isn’t just pain. We have many random symptoms that just seem to show up out of nowhere sometimes. Many people find a symptom tracker helpful for documenting the different symptoms and their severity.
  • Pain levels. Keeping track of our pain levels and looking for connections between those levels and other things going on can tell us if there are certain ‘triggers’ we need to avoid.
  • Activity levels and the effect each activity has on your body. When we start to increase activity levels it’s normal to have a little more pain, at least initially. If, however, if every single time we do one certain activity we experience pain, we may need to discontinue that particular activity.
  • The foods you eat and how you feel after eating, especially if you suspect some of them are giving you trouble. Many people with fibromyalgia have found that removing certain foods from their diets can help with symptoms.
  • Sleep. Keeping track of how much and the quality of sleep we’re getting can be useful when we’re trying to minimize symptoms.
  • Medications. Which ones seem to help and which ones not so much?

For others, keeping a journal is an additional stressor that they don’t need. If that’s the case, just paying attention to these things can still help.

For others, keeping a journal is an additional stressor that they don’t need. If that’s the case, just paying attention to these things can still help.

For some people, just trying to stretch a little outside of what they normally do can help them test their limits and give them valuable feedback from their bodies. For example, if certain activities cause issues, it’s easy to pull back a little and if not, we know we may be able to do a little more next time.

Each person is different and needs to find what works best for them. The most important thing is to get to know our bodies. Knowledge is power, and in this case it’s a power tool in our fibromyalgia toolbox.

Do you have a purposeful way of learning about your body in connection with your chronic illness? Have you found it to be helpful? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

24 comments

  1. Somehow, I thought staying home would balance out my symptoms – of course, I’m wrong. I’m hit and miss about journalling, but admittedly it helps to have a record. Hope you are feeling better.

    1. Thanks for sharing V.J.! Do you think the stress of the situation could be contributing to your symptoms not balancing out? I hope your symptoms lighten up some for you soon. Stay safe sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

      1. Certainly the stress over my daughter being ill didn’t help. She is better now, and I seem to be calming down. Fingers crossed, lol.

      2. I’m so glad she’s doing better. I think we get more stressed out when our kids are sick than when we are ourselves…. I hope things continue to stay calmed down. Hugs!

    1. Thanks Wendi! One thing many of us who live with fibromyalgia have always been people who were, as my hubby calls them, hard-chargers – you know, those people who always have a million things going on and who get things done. The problem with that is that we’ve learned to ignore what our bodies are telling us until they yell to get our attention…. Hopefully by being purposeful about knowing our bodies we can learn to work with them. Hope you’re staying safe and well! Hugs!

  2. “Each person is different and needs to find what works best for them. The most important thing is to get to know our bodies. Knowledge is power, and in this case it’s a power tool in our fibromyalgia toolbox.” BEST ADVICE EVER Terri!

  3. I really like that you’ve noted how keeping a diary can be a stressor for some because the usual advice doesn’t always work for everyone, very good point.
    I’ve found I’m become increasingly attuned to my body over the years. Knowing what’s ‘normal’, what’s not, what’s new and what’s different. I know when to rest, I’m just not always so good at doing it. Admittedly I’ve not found many connections between flares and things like food, but I know the likes of any exertion and cold weather make things worse, especially pain and fatigue. It definitely helps to get a little control back by knowing your body and working with it rather than against it when it fails us. Another fantastic post, Terri! xx

    1. Thanks so much Caz! Like you, I’m becoming more and more attuned to my body as time goes on. A couple of years ago, there’s no way I would have been out in the garden if I woke up feeling the way I was feeling Friday. Now I know that the morning pain is going to subside and moving around actually helps it. I also haven’t found any connections between food and my pain levels. I thought gluten might be a culprit and I went gluten-free for five years. I finally realized I wasn’t feeling any better without eating it and it actually caused some stress around eating, so I started adding it back in. I think that’s one example of why we need to know our bodies – for some people, cutting out certain foods helps them a lot. We’re just all so different and have to find what works for us. Stay safe sweet friend! Sending hugs your way!

  4. I’m working on journaling and keeping track of my symptoms, it has taken me some time to find a system that works for me – but now I just enter some key questions and the end of the night on my phone and it’s simple for me. This was a great reminder.

    1. Thanks for sharing Nikki! I’m glad you’ve found a system that works for you. Finding things that work for our individual needs and personalities is so important, isn’t it? Blessings to you!

  5. Keeping a journal on FM for me is counter productive, just being mindful of what works & doesn’t helps me. Although gratitude & general personal journaling is very therapeutic for me!
    Some form of activity is always helpful even on the most challenging of days 😀
    Bless you Terri,
    Jennifer

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