5 Top Tips on Coping with Fibromyalgia at Work
Fibromyalgia is a long term condition that causes pain all over the body. It can affect anyone of any age, making day to day living more difficult due not only to pain, but other symptoms such as increased pain sensitivity, fatigue, and problems with mental processing, often known as ‘fibro-fog’. This can have a big impact on work, which only serves to increase stress and thus make one more susceptible to flare ups. So what can you do to try and make your working days easier and more fibro-friendly?
If you often experience fibro-fog one thing that you can do to help yourself is keep a pen and paper or a small notebook handy. You can jot down To Do lists or any ideas that you may have, even things you want to talk about with staff or a manager so that you don’t forget them later. A little pocket notebook is the perfect size to slip into a pocket so that you always have something to write down notes on, no matter where you are. Even if you’re feeling good in the morning if you feel bad by the afternoon you may have forgotten ideas and chores that you thought of before the onset of the fog.
It’s important to stretch regularly, especially if you work a job where you spend long hours at a desk. Gentle stretching relieves the tensions in your muscles and prevents them from getting stiff, which in turn can cause pain. It’s important to stretch before you start to feel stiff, as if you wait until you already start to experience pain it may be too late to resolve it. prevention is always easier than trying to fix it; if you can sit comfortably without getting sore for 30 minutes, then you should stretch or move around a little every 20.
3.Make Your Office Fibro-Friendly
This can be as simple as dressing for your office climate to making sure that you have any ergonomic equipment that you may need to help reduce pain. Simple lumbar support in your chair can help ease back pain whilst a headset for those who use the phone regularly can help reduce neck pain and tension headaches. For many people with fibromyalgia the cold makes the pain worse, so dressing in layers or keeping a jumper in your draw can help protect you from a particularly vicious air conditioner.
4.Look After Your Body
Making sure you do the basics of looking after your body can have a huge difference in pain levels and flare ups. A large part of looking after yourself is making sure you stay rested. It can be difficult for many people with fibromyalgia to get proper restful sleep, as the pain can make it difficult for them to get comfortable. Try to establish a regular bedtime routine, as going to bed at the same time every evening helps your body fall into a natural sleep/ waking rhythm. Getting too little sleep increases fatigue and stress which can put you at risk of experiencing more flare ups.
Equally important is making sure you eat healthily. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast that contains slow releasing energy, as well as avoiding too much caffeine will make sure that you consistently release energy throughout the morning, rather than in peaks and troughs caused by caffeine and overly sugary foods.
This is perhaps the most important one. Pushing yourself too hard will only increase the odds of having a collapse or flare up of symptoms. Even when you feel fine it’s important not to push yourself as hard as you may want to to ‘make up for lost time’ etc. Whilst you could get a lot done that day it may means that you then spend the next two days off work sick because of a flare up. This is especially important if you know there is a big project coming up that will be particularly demanding. Make sure you talk to your manager about it so that you can manage your work load. Even if you’re feeling fine to begin with you can’t predict how you may feel closer to the deadline.
As with any chronic condition managing your symptoms can be difficult, especially in environments like work that you can’t completely control. It’s important to speak to your colleagues and manager to see what measures you can take and how you can manage your work load to best look after your health.