If you suffer from fibromyalgia or any other chronic pain, you understand. Besides time with my family, my work was my other biggest concern. Here are my tips on how to stop struggling to work with fibromyalgia. From one warrior to another.
I remember when my doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. The first thing I thought about was there was no way I could have this. I am a very active person and no, this isn’t possible. I can’t have something that is going to slow me down.
What is Fibromyalgia
For those who might be reading this and either don’t understand what fibromyalgia is or have a loved one who has it and wants to better understand, here is what Mayo Clinic describes it as:
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
Long story short, fibromyalgia messes with my mind and body on nearly a daily basis. As someone who works in communications and creative development, this sucks.
Everything that happens in my daily life affects my creativity. When I am in pain, fatigued, or having brain fog, it gets tough to stay on task.
So how did I stop struggling to work with fibromyalgia? It has been a work in progress but the biggest thing is not being too hard on myself and finally understanding that my body needs me now more than ever. I have to strive for excellence and not perfection.
Stop Struggling to Work with Fibromyalgia
This has been the number one change that I have made that has made all the difference. I used to kill myself working straight through on projects. If I needed to get them done, I had to get them done here and now.For as long as it would take. This thinking only left me exhausted, frustrated, and half the time walking away to distract myself with something else. Leaving me with many handfuls of untied projects. Mercy knows, “squirrel moments” are frequent these days.
The Engross App on my phone has been amazing. I set 25-minute timers in my morning and afternoon work for tasks. I work 25-minutes on, 5-minute off. After four tasks, I break for 30-minutes. I take that 30-minutes to go outside, stretch, or read. Each break means I disconnect from work.
No checking emails, no telling myself to work for just a few minutes. I get up, walk away, have a snack, etc. I love that this app turns off my WiFi automatically, keeping distractions away. Without distractions (*cough* Facebook, I’m guilty) I am far more productive. More tasks done in less time means less weight on my already tired mind. Plus, when I walk away, I feel like I come back to my work refreshed every single time. Take on fibromyalgia in sprints, not marathons.
Take Time for Stretching
Stretching with fibromyalgia is very important. Almost as much as getting the proper rest. I have begun practicing deep stretches in the middle of my day. A simple 20-minute routine and it has done wonders. I don’t recommend doing much more because, with fibromyalgia, heavy exercises can tire us easily.
This gives me a break from my work, my kids, life and time to just focus on me and my well being. It opens my mind and body to return to work. I recommend checking out YouTube for awesome and free routines.
Stop Distractions to Open Time for Rest
This goes hand-in-hand with working in small sprints. With fibromyalgia, rest is extremely important. I make it a point to turn off my WiFi and silence my phone by 8 pm every night. I have an alarm on my phone set for it. My rest is more important than the cute puppy meme on Facebook.
I also turn off WiFi and silence my phone when I am doing my work sprints. This way, I have more time to get sleep, work less, and be more productive. It is okay if I sleep for ten hours in the evening because I get more work down in three hours with fewer distractions.
Keep a Notebook and Take Time to Read
I always keep a notebook with me at all times. No matter if it is my notes on my phone or in my journal. I write down anything and everything that I need to remember because let’s face it. With fibromyalgia, I can’t trust my memory much anymore.
On the note of writing and reading, take time when you are reading. I often find myself gliding over information because my mind is all over the place half of the time. I have made it a point to sit down and read something over and over if I have to until I really have digested it. I no longer fear telling others to give me a minute while I do this too. It is how I operate.
Be Good to Yourself No Matter What
There will be people who say that silent diseases like fibromyalgia are all in the head. And you know what? They are right. It is all about what is going on in our head. Convincing ourselves that we are okay when deep inside we are breaking.
It is mind over body in every aspect of this but please, don’t forget to be good to yourself. It is okay to stop and take a moment. Do not let anyone else define your limitations. Your schedule might not be what someone else does or what society suggests, but when you find your groove you will dance.
I hope these quick tips will help in your journey to stop struggling to work with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia in the workplace isn’t easy. You might say that this all seems dandy since I work from home, but in reality, these techniques can be used in other work settings.
Even if your job doesn’t allow as many frequent breaks, use these at home when you have projects, cleaning schedules, or everyday life. Take the time to talk to your boss too about these ideas to help conquer fibromyalgia in the workplace and help you be more productive. I know many companies will work with their awesome employees.
Stop struggling to work with fibromyalgia and simply work with fibromyalgia. This chronic pain is for the birds but it doesn’t mean we can’t achieve great things. Fibromyalgia and work stress is tough but you are stronger! We might have to go about it in sprints or with mental breaks but we will end the race a winner. Go get ’em, Warrior!
Help the entire family focus on family time with this Family Time Crate – Put Electronics Away for Dinner.