It’s the beginning of another new year. This is the time of year where people list resolutions in a desperate stride to achieve a new, better self. For many people, resolutions are a set of unrealistic expectations to achieve a level of perfectionism in some sort of way. Without realizing it, these goals put extreme pressure and stress on the body in more ways than one. And those of us living with fibromyalgia, the stress can cause increased physical symptoms and deepen mental anguish. It doesn’t have to be this way. I challenge you to set realistic, personal goals tailored to living with fibromyalgia, and we will call this list Fibro Resolutions.10 Fibro Resolutions you should do NOW #thefibromyalgiamagazine #fibromyalgia Click To Tweet
This article first appeared in The Fibromyalgia Magazine, January 2018. Get the digital copy of the magazine from Pocketmags.
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Embrace the New Year
But resolutions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If done the right way, they can be life altering and attainable. For this new year, I challenge you to set realistic, personal goals tailored to living with fibromyalgia, and we will call this list Fibro Resolutions. This list of fibro resolutions is essential to a person living with fibromyalgia and will ultimately lead to a healthier you – for life. These will not be easy – nothing new ever is – but it will be worth it for your health in the long run.
10 Fibro Resolutions
1. Embrace and love yourself.
Whether you’ve been living with fibromyalgia for one month, one year, or one decade embrace your fibro body. This is you. It may not be all that you want it to be, and it may make you feel a whole mess of negative emotions, but get over it. Dwelling on what your body can’t do will make you miss out on what it can do. Stop pushing yourself away and start embracing your body. Give it what it truly needs to best manage fibro – love. Like a great person once said, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell can you love anyone else?”
2. Forget the perfect image.
It doesn’t exist. Each person’s view of a perfect anything varies person to person. What you feel is perfect may not be perfect to another person’s standards. You will only put pressure on yourself to obtain a false idea. So why strive to achieve a perfection that, really, doesn’t exist? And what does attaining this ‘perfectionism’ do for you in the long run? It doesn’t give you bonus life points, make you a better person, or any other gain. Perfection is just an idea, a state of mind that creates pressure and stress on the body in mental and physical ways. It’s unhealthy on so many levels and can give you a false sense of security. Do yourself a favor – dump the fantasy and accept what’s around you. Appreciate the imperfection in all its messy glory and all the good that can come with it.
3. Be the best parent you can be.
Being a fibro parent can be quite tricky and difficult, but it also can be amazing. You may not realize it, but while you’re managing fibromyalgia, you’re inadvertently teaching your kids traits that are hard to teach. These traits include compassion, empathy, loving yourself as you are, and other immeasurable traits. These will be the best gifts you can give to your child. Being the best parent you can be means just that. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Live in that moment with your child and give them love. One day they are going to be an adult, and when they look back on their childhood they won’t remember the spotless house, homemade dinners, or extravagant gifts. They will remember you and the unconditional love you gave to them no matter what was happening in life. They will look back when they’re older and will remember you as the amazing parent you are and not the limits fibromyalgia had on you. If needed, check back to numbers one and two on this list.
4. Drop the guilt.
This is one of the hardest parts of living with fibromyalgia and goes along with the first three items in this list. I write about it often because it consumes such a large part of our lives. There’s the guilt of not being able to do what we want, of having to say no because we can’t, of needing to rest when our bodies can’t go on, and the list goes on and on. Why feel guilt for living our lives? Do you feel guilty because you need to eat? No, because our bodies need it to survive. The same concept goes for sleeping, limiting yourself physically, and any other need of your body. Don’t feel guilty for surviving and living life. Life is customizable. It’s not one size fits all, so stopping feeling guilty for living your life the way you need – or want to, for that matter. Just drop the guilt. Period.
This is a big one for many of us. We want to go out with friends and loved ones, but often we cannot. For me, anxiety keeps me housebound most of the time. I hate this; however, for this year, I plan to suck it up and socialize a bit more than I have in the past. I have zero desire to be a party animal, but I do miss being with my friends. Being with friends, for even an hour at my house, increases my happy and feel good meters. I can talk with them about what’s on my mind, we share our stresses, laugh about the stupidity life throws our way, and just be who we are. This is good for the body and mind. There’s something about interacting with our loved ones that does more good than any medicine can do. So, let’s socialize a bit more this year. If you go out with friends once a month, challenge yourself to twice a month. If you can’t go out to a place, then invite a friend over for an hour. Baby step it one social engagement at a time.
Another hard one, but this goes along with many of the other items on this list. Learn to relax and go with the punches life throws your way. Living with fibromyalgia is like a roller coaster – there’s up and downs coming at you faster than you know what to do with. But you know what? A roller coaster is a ride in which you are supposed to have fun. So, relax and enjoy it. When a down is happening, ride with it because it’s going to go up again soon. Remember what we said in numbers one, two, and three? These can be best handled when you learn to relax. Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.
7. Join a support group.
Joining support groups have been the best help for me. Being able to talk with others that are having the same highs and lows as I experience them is a comfort to me. The life we lead with fibromyalgia is not exclusive to one person. We all have the same experiences at some point, and this can be best seen in support groups. Support groups do not have to be limited to in-person meetups. There are numerous groups online for fibro thrivers, and many of these groups are customized. For example, I created a support group for parents living with fibromyalgia (Fibro Parenting). This group is exclusive for fibro parents and the members take comfort in knowing it’s just for other fibro parents. We share our struggles, parenting wins, resources, funny videos, and more. It makes living with fibro just a little bit easier, and that’s a win in my book.
8. Learn to accept the dark days.
Learning to accept the dark days can be a tricky one. No one likes the cold recesses of the darkness depression can bring, but that’s natural to feel that way. But it’s also healthy, as research studies have shown, to embrace those negative feelings. When we fight against the lows, we are fighting a natural state of mind. This pushing back can lead to longer, more frequent episodes of depression. Learn to recognize the onset of a low and deal with it as it comes to you. Write about it (discussed in number ten of this list), talk with a trusted friend, cry it out, or deal with it in your own way. Know that it will past and it’s perfectly normal to experience depression to a healthy extend.
Please note, if your low involves suicidal thoughts or impulses, seek help immediately. Be sure to talk with your physician if your depression involves prolonged periods of staying in bed, thoughts of suicide, or the inability to function daily.
9. Enjoy the good days.
Just as we are to learn how to accept the dark days, we must also enjoy the good days. Really enjoy them. Don’t just go through the motions of life. Embrace the goodness of the day and don’t think about how you will –inevitably – have a bad day. Write down all the good thoughts you have, moments you enjoyed, and how you feel. This is helpful to read while you are having a dark day, and it reminds you that good days are possible.
10. Put pen to paper.
Speaking of writing, put pen to paper this year. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a writer or feel as though you can’t accurately describe how you are feeling. Just write. Writing is a type of therapy and can help you sort out any feelings you have – good or bad. Rather it be a daily or weekly journal, writing is a way to cope with fibromyalgia. Maybe drawing is your thing, so draw rather than write. It’s up to you. Put your pen to paper and let your mind wander.
This is a new year and a new you. Embrace yourself for who you are and get rid of the toxin that has plagued you in the past. You owe it to your partner, your kids, your loved ones, but most importantly – you owe it to YOU. Be amazing, be strong, and be healthy. You can do this.