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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Fibromyalgia

Lifestyle changes are a major part of managing fibromyalgia. These changes include:

Improve Your Diet

There is no specific diet to follow when you have fibromyalgia, but it does matter what kinds of foods you eat. Eating a balanced, healthful diet will help you feel better and provice your body with the nutrients it needs. This includes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eat fish and lean meats like chicken. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. It will help keep you hydrated.

Some foods may be more irritating than others. Keep a journal of what foods worsen your symptoms. If you have problems with managing your diet, talk to a registered dietitian who can help you with meal planning.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is perhaps the most effective way to improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Benefits include:

  • Prevention of muscle atrophy
  • Reduction in muscle stiffness
  • Reduction of pain and fatigue
  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Increased flexibility

Your exercise program should begin with mild activity and gradually increase over time. Try to incorporate different types of exercise, like:

  • Aerobic activity
  • Strength training
  • Flexibility exercises

Exercising in a heated pool may offer benefits. In one systematic review of 16 trials, researchers found that people with fibromyalgia who participated in aquatic training in warm water (strength, aerobic, and relaxation exercises) reported an improvement in symptoms and function.

Manage Fatigue

Pain and sleeplessness can increase the amount of fatigue you feel. Although exercise is important, so is getting enough rest. Balance periods of rest and activity to maximize your energy level. Ask for help at home when you need it. Make a list or schedule of activities that you need to get to. If you feel tired, put off the least important tasks.

Getting enough sleep is an important part of reducing fatigue. It is important to maintain a sleep schedule that is consistent, even during your days off from work or other commitments. Other sleep habits include:

  • Keep your surroundings comfortable. Most people sleep better in a cool, dark room. Avoid using electronic equipment like a cell phone or TV.
  • Have a bedtime routine that includes relaxing, such as reading a book or listening to music.
  • If you wake up during the night, get out of bed and return when you feel drowsy.
  • Avoid taking naps during the day.
  • Use your bed for sleeping and sex only.
  • Exercise more than 6 hours before bedtime.

Manage Stress

Some people with fibromyalgia have found that certain techniques that help you relax and reduce stress may be helpful in managing chronic pain. Examples of successful techniques include:

Work often creates stress. You can reduce your hours at work or find something else that works better for you. This may include a new job or making changes at your current job.

Seek Support

Living with fibromyalgia can be stressful and make you feel like you are alone. Feelings of anxiety and depression are common. Talk to your doctor about counseling or support groups. Support groups are helpful because they allow you to interact with other people who have fibromyalgia. Their experiences and coping styles will help you better manage the condition.

Revision Information

  • Fibromyalgia. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Fibromyalgia. Updated May 2015. Accessed September 14, 2016.

  • Fibromyalgia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116339/Fibromyalgia. Updated February 15, 2016. Accessed September 14, 2016.

  • Fibromyalgia. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Fibromyalgia/default.asp. Updated July 2014. Accessed September 14, 2016.

  • Insomnia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114839/Insomnia-in-adults. Updated March 21, 2016. Accessed September 14, 2016.

  • Treatment. Fibromyalgia Network website. Available at: http://fmnetnews.iraherman.com/fibro-basics/treatment. Accessed September 14, 2016.

  • Treatment. National Fibromyalgia Association website. Available at: http://www.fmaware.org/about-fibromyalgia/treatment. Accessed September 14, 2016.