Stress Management for Fibromyalgia

How to Reduce Your Stress (and Your Fibromyalgia Symptoms)

Emotional stress can affect your perception of pain, which may be why people with fibromyalgia are more susceptible to stress than people who don't have the condition.

Simply put, stress weakens your body. In a weakened state, you're more vulnerable to fibromyalgia's symptoms, such as chronic pain, fatigue, and depression. Many researchers believe if you eliminate certain stressful triggers, you'll in turn experience reduced fibromyalgia symptoms.

But loosening the grip of day-to-day stresses is not as simple as it sounds. Oftentimes, people with fibromyalgia overload themselves with parenting or other caretaking duties, or their career may take precedence. Whatever the situation, many people with fibromyalgia aren't putting themselves as a top concern. But certain lifestyle changes—such as taking time to relax and making your health a priority—are an essential part of coping with fibromyalgia.
Two friends in a coffee shop, cafe sceneCertain lifestyle changes—such as taking time to relax and making your health a priority—are an essential part of coping with fibromyalgia. Photo Source:

How to Reduce Your Stress (and Your Fibromyalgia Symptoms)

Biofeedback therapy. This alternative therapy for fibromyalgia works to reduce stress using a machine that measures the way your body responds to stress. The goal of biofeedback is to determine how your body reacts to stress, and that knowledge will teach you how to control it.

Exercise. Whether you enroll in a water aerobics class or simply take a walk every evening after dinner, exercise promotes good mental health by curbing stress and anxiety. Fibromyalgia's classic pain and fatigue often prevents many from getting the physical activity they need to reduce their symptoms. But exercising—especially aerobic exercising—can instill a sense of control and may even have pain killing and mood lifting effect.

Make sleep a priority. Just like curbing stress, getting a good night's sleep when you have fibromyalgia is often more complex than it sounds. That's because most fibromyalgia sufferers also have sleep problems. Another similarity—both poor sleep and high stress make your fibromyalgia symptoms worse.

Sleep and stress issues often come as a pair—if you have one, you'll likely have the other. Fortunately, if you solve one, you'll typically solve the other. Make sleep a priority and you'll likely experience less stress. And if you have less stress, you'll find that getting a quality night's sleep will be much easier.

Relaxation therapy. This therapy aims to calm both the body and mind through making a conscious effort to relax. Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, you might find this technique effective at controlling your response to stress.

You might want to begin by focusing on one part of the body—your hands, for instance. Concentrate until your hands are entirely free of any stress or tension. Then imagine that weightless feeling flow throughout the rest of your body. You may want to close your eyes, lie down, shut the lights off, or think of a soothing memory. Relaxation doesn't have strict guidelines—whatever best puts you in a relaxed frame of mind is what you should follow.

Take a warm bath. Moist heat, either through taking a shower, bath, or sitting in a hot tub or steam room, will decrease the secretion of stress hormones and raise levels of endorphins, which are your body's natural painkillers. An additional bonus for fibromyalgia sufferers: moist heat also eases tense muscles, thereby improving movement.

Take time for you. When it comes to controlling your stress, balance is key. In most cases, this means you might need to say no when you sense you're getting overwhelmed. Create a balance in your life. You should make time for the things you want to do in addition to the things you have to do.

Ultimately, stress doesn't cause your fibromyalgia, but it will make it worse. Make taking care of yourself part of your daily routine. Simple changes will lessen fibromyalgia's symptoms and give you an overall better quality of life.

Updated on: 06/26/19
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