Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lying Down Helps with Fibromyalgia Pain, Fatigue and Anxiety

Here is an article written by my friend Christine, describing an excerpt from the book The Patient's Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, which is an awesome book that has really helped me to learn how to manage my fibromyalgia. Pacing is definitely one of the most important things in changing your lifestyle. This was very hard for me to do at first, but you finally get to a point where you have no choice but to take a break and learn your limitations if you want to be able to function.

Lying Down Helps with Fibromyalgia Pain, Fatigue and Anxiety

Finding the right balance of activity and rest is one of the biggest challenges for people managing Fibromyalgia (FM) and/or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The good news is that you can increase your control over your condition by consistently practicing what is often referred to as “pacing”. This means understanding the limitations imposed by your FM/CFS and learning to adjust your activity levels for increased comfort. By using pacing strategies you can bring greater stability to your life and prevent or greatly reduce flares.

Bruce Campbell, Ph.D., a recovered CFS patient, created and directs a CFIDS and FM Self-Help program. This program can be found at www.cfidsselfhelp.org along with a textbook called, “The Patient’s Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia”. In my opinion, this is the best self-management approach I’ve found to date.

In his chapter on pacing, Dr. Campbell defines rest as “lying down with your eyes closed in a quiet place”. He uses the term “pre-emptive rest” which means resting daily according to a planned schedule that works best for each individual with FM/CFS.

One of the best ways to manage FM/CFS successfully with pacing is to alternate activity with rest breaks. Lying down is the most restorative way to take a rest break for people with FM/CFS. When taking a rest break, lie down on a bed, the floor, a couch, a recliner or similar place that allows you to be as comfortable as possible.

Lying down for a rest break should be tailored to what works best for you. It should be a time of complete stillness and quiet with no distractions or activity (i.e., no reading, watching TV, talking to someone, etc.). Your eyes are closed and you are “letting go” of the activities you need to do until you have completed your rest break.

This is your time to just “be”. You might take a nap, listen to soothing music, meditate or listen to a guided relaxation, or just lie still and gently allow your thoughts to “settle down”. The length of your break depends on your individual needs and other activities you have planned. Experiment to see what works best and is most restorative—each day will be a bit different.

For myself, I find lying on the floor (I have a rug covered by a soft blanket) and relaxing for 15 to 30 minutes a few times a day helps me prevent fatigue, pain and anxiety. My breaks always make me feel more calm and tranquil. I enjoy very gentle yoga and stretching before and after my break and find meditation to be the best way for me to restore my energy.

Alternating your daily activities with rest breaks can help you pace your life and avoid crashes and flares. I invite you to send me your suggestions and successes with “lying down” rest breaks and how they help you reduce your FM/CFS symptoms.

Copyright Christine O’Dell, 2009

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