Thursday, September 22, 2011

Starting on the Path to Wellness

The self management tools I learned about at Mayo were all about pacing, moderation and balance. All of the concepts sound obvious and rather simple; it is about all the little things I already knew I should be doing (and sometimes do) but not enough and not consistently.

I'm a bit of a perfectionist, a type A personality. I tend to want to control things. Apparently this is a common trait among people with Fibromyalgia and plays a big part in why doing these simple self-management things can be challenging. Even today, armed with the knowledge and committed to implementation of these techniques, I find myself wishing I didn't have to make any changes, wishing I could just return to my life as it was before chronic pain robbed me of so much.

Making real change is going to be difficult here. It is going to require me to make myself a priority, have uncomfortable conversations with the people in my life to educate them about my needs and I will need to figure out exactly what I'm capable of and really change my life to fit my new parameters; and then stick to it.

So here it is: this is a list of the components that I will need to add and/or modify to help bring my life and pain into balance and control.

1. Relaxation
2. Decrease symptom focused behaviors
3. Stress management
4. Moderation
5. Positive thinking
6. Communication
7. Humor
8. Leisure/Fun
9. Spirituality
10. Exercise
11. Nutrition
12. Sleep Hygiene

In order to be successful I've decided to tackle the two areas that I feel will be easiest to implement. Then once they begin to become habit I will add an additional component and so on. I picked relaxation and exercise first.

Relaxation: I chose to tackle relaxation first for two reasons. First, a study was done with Fibro patients that showed by simply doing 20 minutes of relaxation/day for a period of several weeks by itself was enough to lower their experience of pain. The more they did and the longer, the more the benefit as compared with a group that did it inconsistently and for less than 20 minutes. The second reason was that I received several relaxation CDs in the class that made getting started easy.
My commitment is 30 minutes/once a day for the first month. Then slowly increasing to 20 minutes/twice a day.

Exercise: I also chose to tackle exercise first because it was something that I had already been doing before we moved across the country. What I learned was that this is something that really needs to be done daily, even if the exercise is simply gentle stretches. I received a couple DVDs and several handouts on the types of gentle exercises that are good for Fibro patients during the class as well. I'm finding that between walking the dog and doing some of these gentle exercises that this is going to be doable for me. And honestly, when I was having all that neck pain during my trip I immediately started doing some of the gentle stretches that I learned in class and found that there was some immediate short term benefit when I did them. I was told that doing the exercises regularly over the long-term I can expect to have more benefit.
My commitment is to start slow with 10-20 minutes daily for the first month, then increase to 30 minutes/daily.

I will document my progress here and tell you more as I continue to implement more of these strategies.


  1. I know the how's and why's of my fibro getting better, and more or less what triggers it. I know you can do these things, because you are a type A personality and you aren't going to let something rule over your life now that you know how to fix it. You go girl!

  2. This is a great tool kit and a wonderful place to start!