Blog Posts

Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue

I have been dabbling with yoga for chronic pain and fatigue for more than 10 years. For the past five I have progressively become more enamoured with it.

In this post I will share some research, the benefits (in brief), the thing I love most about yoga, it’s multiple uses for chronic pain and fatigue, specific ways I use it, and how you can learn more about incorporating it into your well being journey.

Let’s be clear right out of the gate. Yoga is not a panacea. It is not a cure all. It is one useful tool that can be a part of a holistic plan for wellness.

Type “yoga for fibromyalgia” or “yoga for myofascial pain syndrome” or “yoga for pain” etc. And you will find a wealth of search options to delve into.

There is research specifically for using poses for myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia and more. Taking a more macroscopic view, mindfulness for chronic illness is just as much of a buzz topic at the moment.

Research around Yoga, Pain and Fatigue

Take this 2010 study that found, “pain was reduced in the yoga group by an average of 24 percent, fatigue by 30 percent and depression by 42 percent.” The yoga group participated in a holistic program for eight weeks – gentle yoga poses, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga-based coping instructions, group discussions and a daily diary assessing their progress. The control group received standard medication treatments.

This was followed up three months later: “Follow-up results showed that patients sustained most of their post treatment gains, with the FIQR (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Revised) Total Score remaining 21.9% improved at 3 months. Yoga practice rates were good, and more practice was associated with more benefit for a variety of outcomes.”

This study was small, just eight participants completed the study on the effect of yoga on myofascial pain syndrome in the neck. It comprised two weeks of breathing and relaxation practices and two weeks of asanas (poses), breathing and relaxation. The poses were Trikonasan (triangle pose), Tadasan (mountain pose), Vakrasan (twisted pose), Balasan (child’s pose) and Vajrasan (thunderbolt pose).

However, let’s not lose sight here – Vajrasan is a more advanced pose, the ability to do this pose indicates a pretty high level of physical ability to me.

The results were that this program “led to significant improvement in the quality of health, physical capacity (strength), cervical range of motion, and pressure threshold of the trigger points, and decreased the disability and pain.”

Perspectives on Yoga Inputs in the Management of Chronic Pain describes the benefits: “This consists of decreased metabolism,[24] decreased rate of breathing, decreased blood pressure, decreased muscle tension, decreased heart rate and increased slow brain [alpha] waves.[25] As the neural discharge pattern gets corrected, the habitual deep muscle hyper tonicity and thus the static load on postural muscle also slowly come down. The function of viscera improves with the sense of relaxation and sleep gets deeper and sustained. The fatigue level comes down.”

woman doing yoga

Benefits of yoga for chronic pain and fatigue (or anyone)


• calms the autonomic nervous system
• help with sleep
• reduced fatigue
• reduced pain
• increased physical capacity
• decreased myofascial pain
• less anxiety
• reduced depression
• relaxation
• mindfulness of movement
• awareness of proper alignment

What I love the most about yoga for managing chronic pain and fatigue:

Ease of adapting to my current abilities -Whatever my symptom level on any given day there is an option for me to practice yoga.

Let’s talk a couple of key things here:
Yoga is a tool, a multi use tool, but a tool nonetheless. I will use any tool at my disposal to help with the symptoms I live with. In much the same way I use low dose naltrexone- it was not designed for fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome but it helps anyway.

If some parts of the spectrum of yoga practices don’t resonate with you, ignore them. If you want to look at it as a purely physical practice, then do so.

In terms of the spiritual side, I shy away from much if it. My belief practice is Christianity and I have never felt a conflict. In fact, there is a great Christian yoga channel on YouTube.

Some of the options in yoga

Asanas (poses): one or two gentle poses (like child’s pose and forward bend), a flowing sequence of 5, 10, 20 or more minutes, chair yoga, bed yoga or restorative yoga.

Pranayama (breathing): breathing is always useful when you are managing a chronic illness. Simply focusing on your breath and helping your exhale to be slightly longer than your inhale will cause a relaxation effect. Breathing through pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety and overwhelm can help centre your thoughts on something else, release tension and help to ease the symptoms. Synchronising movements with the breath makes you more likely to be mindful of your movement and less likely to overdo it or injure yourself.

Meditation: I began using meditation specifically to achieve rest where sleep provided little. It was a means to an immediate end. After a few years I realised it was helping me much more profoundly in the form of turning down my central nervous system overdrive. There is nothing better than the comfort I feel after a 20 or 30 minute yoga nidra meditation. I cannot achieve it another way.

Day to day my practice changes but I usually practice in one way or another.

Meditation is my top tool for managing fatigue and pain. I very rarely miss my daily meditation.

I have never completed a 60 or 90 minute class or resembled a pretzel in any way. Because that is not the point.

Strengthening, calming, being mindful and moving is.

When my first son was young I had a yoga instructor come to my house for a private session to ensure my posture was correct and craft a sun salutation sequence suitable for my physical abilities at the time.

Sometimes I do the sequence with several breaths for each pose, one breath for each pose or a mix. If I feel a particular benefit from one of the poses I will engage in that one longer. Forward bend is a particularly good one for letting the neck gently stretch.

Cat and cow pose is a great tiny sequence for the pelvis and back. I did this multiple times a day during my pregnancies. I teach cat and cow pose in my free challenge, Five Minutes a Day for Five Days Challenge, sign up here.

When my pelvis was unstable due to pregnancy and I could hardly walk, I could still do half sun salutations (standing) or chair salutations.

The key is to be mindful of your body on any given day. Pay attention to what you need and can reasonably do.

Learn the many options- these tools have a place in our natural pain relief toolkit.

The complexity in yoga for chronic pain and fatigue

When we have extra challenges to think through, we need to be extra mindful. 

There is some complexity involved in practicing yoga when you have chronic issues. This is why it can be helpful to see a teacher privately – either for some initial guidance or ongoing personalised work. 

There are several types of yoga, many asana (poses) to choose from and we need to choose sequences that make sense for our current context. The other bonus is that you can create a homework plan so that you can continue your work between sessions, equipping you further.

As an example of the complexity – I have severe, recurring trigger points in my neck and shoulders. Holding poses that activate these muscles for up to five minutes (yin yoga) is not a good idea for me. I have a heat intolerance so hot yoga isn’t for me. The fibromyalgia and poor tense fascia responds well when given a chance to gently release.  So I gravitate toward slow flow and gentle yoga. 

I trained to be a yoga teacher because I got so frustrated with doing “beginner” classes that we out of my reach physically and for the time frame. I also wanted to share these tools to show you that “yoga” doesn’t mean 90 minute classes getting into very bendy positions. 

This is also why I created the below challenge!

Learn how we can use the tools of yoga in just five minutes a day?

Join us for the challenge!

yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge
Join us for the FREE five minutes a day for five days yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge

Join us for five minutes per day for five days and see how the tools of yoga might be of service to you.

If you would like some help learning the many ways you could incorporate it into your management plan for fibromyalgia/chronic pain/chronic fatigue or would like private yoga classes tailored to you from the comfort of your home (virtually) book your complimentary consultation here.

I’d love to hear from you – have you found benefit from any of the tools of yoga? 

Mindset and Steps for Improving Fibromyalgia

Tackling fibromyalgia is a mammoth task. It is a complex illness requiring a holistic approach. Getting our mindset right is key for helping us to improve.

If we want to get better we must truly believe we can.

mindset for improving fibromyalgia

The tools for a cure do not exist yet. But I do believe we are close.

In the absence of a cure, we do need to ask ourselves two questions:

  1. Do I believe I can improve?
  2. Am I willing to do the (hard) work to achieve this?

You need to believe you can improve and you need to do the work. Or you’ve sabotaged yourself from the beginning.

Take some time and play with these questions. Write them in your journal, or a blank piece of paper and write through all the thoughts that come up with them. When you’ve worked through that, perhaps you could write yourself an affirmation like, “I will decrease this pain and fatigue.” Or if that seems too far for you right now, “I will take one small step each day to improve my life.”

There is no magic pill. Nothing a doctor can dispense will eradicate symptoms or stand alone.

It will more than likely be a multi pronged attack in the broad areas of:

  • Sleep
  • Pain management
  • Pacing and energy management
  • Perpetuating factors
  • Nutrition and food intolerances
  • Gentle exercise
  • Central nervous system/meditation

It is a big task that will take time.

You need someone on your team who:

  • Gets it
  • Listens
  • Helps you look at the big picture, holistic management
  • Enabling you to focus on small, sustainable changes
  • Can provide accountability and support

Whether that is yourself, a coach, a family member or another suitably experienced person – you need support. PS. I offer coaching, check that out here.

It sounds hard, right? Like perhaps you could never do all of this while in such pain and so exhausted?

Let me encourage you. Because I did it. Over several years I have halved my pain and fatigue levels and improved my quality of life – far exceeding my expectations.

How did I do it? One step at a time with the belief I could improve just a little more.

You can read about some of my journey in these posts:
What works now 2019
Fibro framework sleep
Low dose naltrexone one year experiment

if you believe

What are the mindset shifts for improving fibromyalgia?

Not I can’t…but how can I?
From I’ll never be cured…to I will improve.
Not this is so overwhelming…but what area can I tackle right now?

A positive mindset is not going to cure us but it sure as heck will keep our hope kindled and keep showing us the way forward. One step at a time.

What can help us cultivate a positive mindset?

Gratitude!

Each day try to find three things you are grateful for. Track your progress, however small and be thankful for it. Some days you might only find gratitude for the fact that you survived it. On others you might notice that you felt so nice for a few minutes in the hot shower. Or how sitting in the sun on your deck was so calming.

For some things that might make you feel nice see this post.

Let me know, do you have a gratitude practice? Do you believe you can improve?

Do you want to join a community working toward wellness together? Come and join melissa (you) vs chronic pain, fatigue, fibromyalgia Facebook group.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Chronic Illness Fighters to Give and Get

When you are dealing with chronic pain and fatigue the last thing you want is to spend hours being jostled around in a busy mall trying to figure out what to get those on your list. This list that I have compiled gives you some ideas to add to your Christmas gift list and for others to give those of us with chronic illness.

I am sharing 16 Christmas gift ideas for you!

christmas gift guide

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of these links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

An Energy Friendly Creative Hobby – Paint by Numbers Canvas

Winnie’s Picks – Paint by Numbers canvas. These are very cool packs with everything the recipient needs to create their own canvas. It’s great as a meditative practice and just plain fun. This is really great for both a chronic illness fighter and a special gift for others. It’s creative without requiring bucket loads of creativity!

my paint by numbers kit
This is the kit that I received, it was so fun to unpack it!

Reading – without having to go to the library or store

I am a massive reader. Without a fantastic library system I wouldn’t be able to maintain this perfect hobby for the chronic illness fighter. Second to the library is Amazon Kindle Unlimited – reading and listening! They offer 6, 12 and 24 month membership options which gives unlimited reading of over a million ebooks. A book lovers dream!

Audio books – without going to the shop

If audio books are more you or your person’s speed then Audible gift membership will do the trick! You can choose 1, 3, 6 or 12 months and for each month they receive three titles from a vast number of options.

Adult colouring books

Coloring is a great hobby that we can pick up and put down as needed. I have a few coloring books and my Faber Castell coloring pencils. Coloring is a great gateway to meditative practices.

Essential oil diffuser


I have written about using essential oils a few times. I particularly love copaiaba essential oil. Lavender and peppermint are really great beginner oils. Lavender is good for creating a relaxing massage oil, dropping under your pillow for sleep and more. Peppermint is good for nausea.

Fruit infusion bottle

When I created the healthy habits challenge my first area to tackle was hydration, the second was nutrition. This is a nifty way to tackle both! Add some fruits and/or herbs to your water as you hydrate.

A simple cookbook with nourishing, easy prepare meals

Ways to get into utilising the slow cooker, pressure cooker or both are always useful for us. Quick and nutritious meals that you can easily double up are perfect.

A subscription box

Do you have a local subscription box that you could set up for three or six months? The gift that keeps on giving! This website has a whole heap of options that would suit any giftee.

A potted plant

Flowers are a beautiful treat, but a plant continues to give well beyond the bouquet. I have a beautiful pink and white cyclamen in my lounge – as featured in the below image.

10 nice minutes with chronic illness

A herb for their windowsill to use

You could choose parsley, chives, micro greens, coriander, rosemary, thyme etc.

Hot chocolate mix

Make your own and put it in a pretty glass jar or purchase one (make it decadent).

Your favourite book

Do you have a favourite book? Give that to a lucky person on your gift list! Here are a few of my favourites…

A milk frother for a decadent morning beverage


A way to make the morning (or afternoon) nice. Hot chocolate, coffee latte, tea latte, moringa latte. This will get a lot of use.

Nutribullet

For easy food prep try a Nutribullet– nut milks, smoothies, delicious cashew cheese sauce and more! I am obsessed with mine and it was a fun Friday when my husband bought this home for me. I would have preferred the 1200 watt, but the 800 works well too. A really good way to increase your vegetable, herb and fruit intake.

A decent heat pack

This is on my list this year! I have had the same heat pack for a few years now and it just isn’t working for me. I tried a clay one, as clay is meant to be better, but it somehow popped and then the clay was oozing out. It was bad! I would like an electric one this time.

A beautiful journal and pen

There are a lot of options for journals, a beautiful blank one or a guided one for different purposes. I always have a journal on the go and really make an effort when I have a really nice one.

The Ultimate Fibromyalgia Wellness Planner Kit

Would you or your giftee like the gift of helping you plan your journey to better wellness? My Ultimate Wellness Planner Kit is designed to help you make your pain management plans, improve sleep, choose and evaluate new treatment options and more.

ultimate wellness planner

There we have it, 16 options you or your person might like for Christmas this year.

Are there any on this list you are adding to yours? Do you have some other ideas?

Improve Fibromyalgia Now: How I Learnt the Tools to Halve My Fibromyalgia Symptoms

What is the best way that exists to improve fibromyalgia? In this post, I share the best information that exists right now. I am keeping an eye on the research being done by Dr Jarred Younger and the Neuroinflammation, Pain and Fatigue Laboratory and I encourage you to as well. They are at the forefront of the research on fibromyalgia.

I believe that everybody can improve their quality of life. Whether you are suffering from chronic pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia, myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia – I believe there are steps we can take to improve our symptoms. I am not sure about complete recovery, yet, but I have personally halved my pain and fatigue levels. I have also dramatically improved my sleep – I no longer spend hours trying to get to sleep, sleep in one hour blocks or spend hours awake in pain in the night. It is just far and away better than before.

improve fibromyalgia now

How did I achieve this?

By following the advice of the authors in the following two books. And by working away at lots of little steps every single day.

I also believe if we gave these books to people as soon as they were diagnosed and their doctors were willing to work with them through them, then they would not decline as far and would begin to improve sooner.

Affiliate notice: Some of these links are affiliate links and I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The FibroManual by Dr Liptan

This book was written by a doctor who has fibromyalgia herself and has dedicated her career to treating it. In a recent interview I saw with her, she said she believes herself to be around 80% better to what she was (following her own advice) and even works full time as a practicing doctor in addition to a lot of advocacy work and blogging etc. She also believes we may have the tools for complete recovery available in the next ten years!

This book is also designed to take the back portion to see your doctor and help them treat you. Especially the sleep section.

From Fatigued to Fantastic by Dr Teitelbaum

Another doctor who has fibromyalgia and who has dedicated his career to helping patients with it. A holistic protocol that begins with sleep. If you Google his name, you will find a multitude of resources, including videos and interviews and an entire website.

Both of these books are multi-pronged attacks and deal with more than just band aids for pain and fatigue.

Even if you only found one nugget in these books, you would improve your quality of life. These books are packed full of useful things to enact.

If you are able to follow instructions and try things yourself – then you will surely see results.

Dr Liptan also gives further detail about nutritional changes in The Fibro Food Formula book – so check that out!

All of these areas take time and trial and error. If you want to DIY it, write out a big list of goals or things to try from these books and slowly working through it

If you want support, then you can get some coaching (with me or another health coach). They can help you break it down into manageable chunks.

My Hypothesis

I believe if I was handed one or both of these books at the beginning (and had a doctor who would help me with their parts) then I wouldn’t have gotten so sick and it wouldn’t have taken so long to get better. The cascade of physiological flow on effects wouldn’t have occurred.

To Do List

  • Read one or both of these books
  • Write out the main list of areas (sleep, pain, nutrition etc.)
  • Fill in ideas to try under each area, including what you need to ask your doctor for help with
  • Work on each part slowly
  • If you can, engage a coach to help you with this work – it’s complex and there’s a lot to it
  • You might like to look at my Fibromyalgia Framework Series for a quick start DIY guide
  • If you want help, accessible at your own pace with the benefit of the supportive group check out Mindfulness for the Chronic Life virtual wellness studio.
wellness for the chronic life

Do you think you can improve your quality of life? Have you done it? Followed one of these books, or another protocol? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Do you agree with my hypothesis? That we can improve fibromyalgia now by following one or both of these two books?

Ways to Make Money with Fibromyalgia

When you are fighting a chronic illness, especially one which limits your energy levels, it makes working in an office or physical job difficult. We still need ways to make money even with fibromyalgia. These are not “make a quick buck” ideas, these are “build a micro-business, it takes time and effort” ideas.

ways to make money with fibromyalgia

Affiliate notice: Some of these links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. It all helps me to keep making these resources. For more information see here.

Ways to Make Money with Fibromyalgia

Etsy Store

I created an Etsy store to share the templates I had created and used for myself in my own journey – things like My Wellness Planner Kit and My Sleep Workbook. I share a lot of detail about it in this post, My Etsy Diaries. It took a lot of time – I created and fine tuned the templates, created the copy for the listing, researched keywords, created the images and then had to promote them on social media. This has created a small but constant stream of income. If you were focusing solely on it, dedicated to researching best practices and good keywords etc. then you could likely make much more.

Here is an article with a run down for creating and selling printables.

my wellness planner kit

Online VA

One thing I haven’t done but had in the back of my mind for a long time was to be an online virtual assistant. You can choose your hours, work in the comfort of your own home and take on the type of work that interests you. It is time consuming to actually find the work and then do the work and take care of the background administration for your own company. It is the easiest way to make a full income if you can work enough hours. Here is an introductory video about it:

You could specialise in:

  • Working with small business owners
  • Helping bloggers
  • Pinterest VA
  • Social media manager
  • Bookkeeping
  • Website support
  • Transcription services
  • Ghostwriting
  • and more!

Blogging

This blog has been around for several years now, when I started, I never imagined that I could make any income from it. As it has grown and people have told me how much they love it, I have had to look for ways to make some of my income from it to enable me to keep dedicating time to it. I did everything one thing at a time. Even creating blog posts is done step by step. So it is definitely a long-term plan.

I dabbled with a free site for a long time, but now I am finally settled with a host I like I am playing massive catch up. Starting with a host from the beginning and setting it up right is actually a time and energy saver. I recommend GreenGeeks – I chose a three year subscription and got a very good price. In this blog post I share how I create posts step by step and some resources for getting started blogging.

As part of the blog I have the opportunity to do affiliate marketing. This means I can promote products and services I like and receive a portion of the cost. Like when I told you about MSM supplement for pain in this post. If you decide to try it and use my link, I make a tiny commission. Eventually it all adds up. The important thing here is that I would have written the post anyway, the potential to make a little bit of income is secondary.

Some people have made very successful blogs and make a good living from them, but that takes investment and a lot of energy. It is also usually in other niches (subject areas) because nobody goes into the chronic illness niche to make lots of money.

Online courses

Do you have a good understanding of something? Perhaps your previous profession gave you some tools you can teach other people. I have lived, researched and actively worked to fight fibromyalgia – so I have created courses to help you do that too. My courses and books and coaching are shortcuts for you so it doesn’t take as long for you to figure it out. Do you have a subject like this?

I chose Teachable to host my courses. I did a lot of research around the key players in online course software and chose this one after careful deliberation and a play with a couple of the other options. It has been easy to set up and use.

Teaching /Live Services

Do you have something to teach or a service to perform in real life? Or live, virtually? I am doing this with yoga – if you are curious about yoga or coaching or a blend with me, click here. You could do it with:

  • English lessons (can be done virtually or in person)
  • Reiki
  • Massage therapy
  • Nail technician
  • Personal training (exercise)
  • the list is endless!

The idea is for using your skills (or honing new ones) in a way that provides flexibility around your needs. Do you need to work early in the day? Have long breaks between clients/sessions? Do you come alive later in the day? Can you do a few hours over six days, or a couple of fuller days?

Write Books

One or two books doesn’t make that much money, but I didn’t write my books for that. It was a life dream to write a book. I had no idea I could achieve it while living with fibromyalgia and with two small children. With the help of my brother, I did it. My Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book is still one of the only books written on the subject so it was necessary. I wrote my books very slowly as at the time of writing them I couldn’t sit at the computer for very long at all. They do bring in a small amount of income every month (I don’t receive it every month, Amazon holds onto the money until it reaches $100 and then they deposit into my bank account and then my bank takes $15 processing fee).

If you were able to write multiple books and focus on really marketing them – telling people they exist, then you could make much more.

Coaching

Are you an expert in something? Or do you have a passion for helping others to achieve their goals? Life coaching training gave me the framework to take my expertise to my clients. It is a process to support clients to achieve their goals.

Research around coaching for fibromyalgia is in its infancy but the initial findings are that it is enormously beneficial. This article discusses the benefits on patients receiving coaching for fibromyalgia. At the conclusion of the study it refers to, 12 months results included that Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire scores improved by 35%. Illnesses interference in function was reduced by 44%.

I became a coach because it was a natural extension of the work I have been doing in my blog, books, courses and Facebook groups. I wish that there had been a coach capable of helping me back when I was beginning my journey fighting fibromyalgia. My purpose is to save people the time and energy I had to invest in order to learn what I needed to learn to start improving my quality of life.

Coaching is about more than the initial training, however you choose to train, it is ongoing professional development. I am constantly learning about treating fibromyalgia.

If you want to look into training for yourself, in an energy friendly manner (and you are good at self-motivation) check out Transformation Academy. If you are able to take on several clients this is a good way to make an income. You do need to be able to get the clients, work with them and do all of the background administration that comes with it. By doing coaching virtually you eliminate the travel time and energy usually associated with work and you can also do the sessions using audio only so that you can relax (I use my heat pack).

Writing articles

Freelance writer and teacher Elna Cain is a great resource for getting started in this field. She has a free introductory course. Writing articles for online businesses in a great way to make super flexible income. You do have to watch out for places that will pay appropriately for your content or you will end up writing yourself into the ground just to make a decent income. I have only written a few because I haven’t had the time to focus on finding the places to pitch to that pay well.

You Tube

I have been making videos for years, mostly as a way to add to the blog posts. In all this time I have not hit the metrics required to monetize the content, so I don’t personally make money this way. If you are prepared to focus and work at it, you can make some money this way. Gillian Perkins is a great resource for learning about using YouTube to generate income:

E commerce store

This is kind of like an Etsy store except that you host it on your own website and then drive all of your own traffic there. If you create your own products, this is a great way to do it. You can also host affiliate products in your store. It is just another way to present affiliate products to your audience. If you genuinely like the products you are recommending it is a great way to make income while serving your audience (reducing the time it takes to find a good product for a particular solution).

fibro framework book

I hope that something here has peaked your interest if you were wanting to start making money in a more flexible way, despite fibromyalgia. Is there something you do that isn’t listed here?

an income with fibromyalgia

Coloring as Meditation and for Relaxation

There has been a lot of interest in adult coloring and meditation for the general population as well as for those of us with chronic illness. Coloring as meditation and for relaxation is a really accessible, practical way to incorporate mindfulness into your day.

how to color for relaxation and meditation - paint by numbers

What are some good reasons to use coloring as meditation?

  1. It is a practical way to incorporate mindfulness into your day and mindfulness has many benefits. If you are curious about those benefits see my free mindfulness workshop.
  2. You can use it to connect with your children – you can color side by side. Modelling mindfulness is the key way to help children reap the benefits of mindfulness. It is also a fantastic way to play with your children if you have limited energy.
  3. As a low energy hobby – following on from the above point, whether you have children or not, it can be difficult to incorporate hobbies when you have chronic pain and fatigue. Coloring is a great way to be able to continue to have hobbies without costing all of your spoons.
  4. Relaxation – when we are in higher levels of pain it can be difficult to relax, it is a gentle way to distract ourselves without resorting to “the box” (though TV has its place).
  5. Ease anxiety – this article shares a piece of research from 2005 where coloring mandalas helped to ease anxiety

If you love the idea of adding mindfulness to your life, head on over to see my free Mindfulness for the Chronic Life workshop which takes you through the benefits and some of the ways to incorporate it into your life. If you want to read more about managing chronic illness see:

What Works for Me Now: Fighting Fibromyalgia
Inexpensive Items I use to Fight Fibromyalgia
Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

What if you don’t feel creative? Paint by Numbers option

If you like the idea of simultaneously reaping the above benefits, taking an easier option and creating something you can display in your home – then Paint by Numbers might be for you. Affiliate notice: Some of these links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using them, I will make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Winnie’s Picks is a premium paint by numbers for adults website that has a heap of different options to choose from. The kits include the linen canvas with the image you choose, the acrylic paint set with matching numbers for the image, a set of four brushes and the complete instructions. You can be a beginner and still get it right.

Giveaway! Try your own coloring project

Winnie’s Picks are going to give one lucky winner from my audience their very own paint by numbers set!

  1. This is open internationally (and includes postage)
  2. The winner can choose one paint by numbers of our catalog (custom canvases included)
  3. The giveaway will be open for two weeks.
  4. Simply enter to win below.
  5. I will contact the winner and send your details to the team at Winnie’s Picks.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Or you can head on over to purchase your own Paint by Numbers kit. It would make a really cool gift. Below is my pack – it was so exciting to receive everything I needed to get started! This is going on my Christmas gift list.

Does it look a little scary to you? It isn’t! We are so used to one step at a time in our journey fighting fibromyalgia and this is what we do with our paint by numbers canvas – do a little at a time. It is a great idea to have a place you can leave it out so that it is easy for you to come back to.

my paint by numbers kit to color for relaxation
It was so fun to receive my kit!

I would love to see your creations – come on over to Melissa (you) vs Chronic Pain, Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group and share your work. Let us know below, do you have a creative practice?

paint by numbers - coloring for relaxation

21 Simple Healthy Living Tips for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Fatigue

Being a healthy human being is a prerequisite for helping to manage chronic pain and fatigue.

Simple healthy living tips are top of the to-do list. Because you cannot throw medicines or any other tools at chronic pain and fatigue if you are not addressing your “normal human needs”.

21 simple healthy living tips

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Here are some simple things you can do right now:

A lot of these 21 things lead to more information. If you are curious about even more, you might like to join our newsletter list and gain access to You vs Fibromyalgia free micro course and my free resources page here…

5 Ways I Use Mindfulness Every Single Day

As a person who has practiced mindfulness in one way or another for several years, offers mindfulness as part of my coaching programmes and has a course dedicated to mindfulness and meditation for chronic pain and fatigue, I thought it was time to share how I use it myself every single day.

Initially I began using meditation as a gateway to profound rest which I could not achieve any other way. But as I have learnt more and practiced more it has begun to be so much more. It transcends the boundaries of a “treatment” for chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia. It helps me in every part of my life.

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Five ways I use mindfulness every single day

Here are five ways I use mindfulness every single day

Breathing

I breath to relax, to help me get off to sleep, to avoid or reduce the stress response. You can use the simple 4-2-6 recipe for the simplest stress reduction technique. See my YouTube video below on this breathing.

Mindful Parenting

When my son seems to be getting overwhelmed, or he wakes with a bad dream and panics or when his behaviour is getting over the top we take mindful breaths together. I also use it to try to regulate my response to the frustrations that arise when parenting three very busy boys.

Meditation

Every day after lunch I meditate. It is how I have coped with the intense sleep deprivation of my third baby – who is the worse of the three with sleeping. Yoga Nidra refreshes me, restores me and gives me profound rest I haven’t found any other way. It has been key in reducing my central nervous system over activation of a period of many years. It is a key part of my six month coaching programme.

Mindful Curiosity

A good way to manage chronic illness is to be mindfully curious. Pay attention to what may be causing certain results – like increased pain and fatigue. To also be mindful during movement so we don’t add to our body’s physical burden. Be aware of our emotional and spiritual components too – we are a whole person, not just a physical being. Taking a mindful pause to really listen to others can be so useful in maintaining healthy relationships.

Body Scan Relaxation

I take body scan relaxations when I am first going to sleep and when I am trying to get back to sleep in the night. By paying attention to each part of my body in turn and then inviting it to relax, I tune into my body. I remember it is part of me, even when I’d rather distance myself from the parts with the most pain. My neck is the part I spend the most time visualising. It is much more productive to spend time checking in with your body than stressing that you are not yet asleep. Even if you don’t fall asleep (and I always do) then you will have achieved rest, which is far better than getting frustrated about insomnia and/or pain.

As you can see mindfulness encompasses a range of things. It is truly a cornerstone of my wellness plan. I really hope you can see the benefits of incorporating it into your personal plan for wellness.

You are welcome to check out my free workshop Mindfulness for the Chronic Lifesimply sign up here to learn about the benefits and how to get started with a mindfulness practice right now!

central sensitivity and meditation

Things to Consider Pre Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue

Considering pregnancy with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue or any chronic illness is a big deal. There are a host of considerations. If I had thought too intensely about it prior to having my first I am sure I would have gotten myself into a tizzy. Why? Because there was no information available. Even once I was pregnant there was so little information around and even my doctors didn’t know much about it.

After years of researching and sharing my experience and writing about pregnancy with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, I have developed a list of things to consider prior to becoming pregnant.

things to consider pre pregnancy with fibromyalgia

In this post I will share a few, but the list is long. You can grab the entire list by purchasing the updated edition of Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book and emailing your proof of purchase to melissa[at]melissavsfibromyalgia.com or enrolling in Pregnancy and Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia. For this month (August 2019) only the entire revamped course is available for just $59 (down from $99). Where the book shares my experience and research, the course turns that knowledge around and helps you to make your plans for managing during pregnancy with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue.

Top Considerations Pre Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links may be affiliate links and if you make a purchase using those links I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Arm yourself with knowledge


Take Pregnancy and Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia micro course for an introduction about pregnancy and fibromyalgia (available in my free resources page, simply sign up to the newsletter and receive access)
Read Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book
Consider taking the Pregnancy and Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia course
Learn about pregnancy in general
 Look into delivery and recovery
Read about the early weeks (fourth trimester)

Wean off and stop any medications that are categorically unsafe

This is an area I encourage you to become a self-advocate. Do some research and be involved in the decision making process with your doctor – ensure you are being factored into the cost vs benefit equation. This is a really important one to address. I have seen women who have been forced to go cold turkey off medications during their first trimester and it is not fun.

A top piece of advice for any person approaching a doctor no matter their stage in life? A well researched/thought out decision is harder to ignore than a general plea for help. Arm yourself with knowledge, do your cost vs benefit analysis and then ask the doctor to partner with you. They may disagree but you have created a starting point for a good discussion.

Have an honest discussion with your significant other about:


How you will manage during pregnancy and the first year
What you will do in the event that you cannot continue to work
What will happen if there are times when you are too ill to look after the baby
Agree how you will approach breastfeeding

Nourish yourself well


Drink water
Minimize dehydrating drinks such as tea and coffee (the research suggests these are fine in moderation during pregnancy, but it is good to minimize from the hydration perspective)
Aim for eight servings of fruit and vegetables a day, aim for an array of colours
Include protein and healthy fats at each meal
If you need, consult a medical professional or nutritionist
Start taking a pregnancy multivitamin

Come and join the supportive community in the Pregnancy and Parenting with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group. Having social support is magical. It truly made a huge difference for me between my first and second pregnancies. Just having people who got it to bounce ideas off was a relief.

Pregnancy with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, doesn’t have to be a scary idea. Just know that with preparation, understanding and support you can do it.

I would love to hear from you: What kind of things are you concerned with if you are considering pregnancy with chronic illness? What kinds of things do you wish someone told you if you are already pregnant or had a baby with chronic illness? Tell us in the comments below!

Don’t forget that you can grab the entire list by purchasing the updated edition of Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book and emailing your proof of purchase to melissa[at]melissavsfibromyalgia.com or enrolling in Pregnancy and Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia. For this month (August 2019) only the entire revamped course is available for just $59 (down from $99)

Preparing for the Postpartum Period with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

All areas around bearing children with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia are sorely lacking in readily available knowledge. The postpartum period is a mystery to all women, but when there is a chronic illness in the mix it is vital to be prepared. In the Pregnancy and Parenting with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group (which you are welcome to join if you are a female considering children, are pregnant or have children) we talk through all of the areas regularly.

Recently though, I realised I hadn’t addressed the postpartum period here on the blog. Mostly because I have no idea how much of my experience was unique to the chronic illness and how much was “normal” to all postpartum periods.

Preparing for the postpartum period with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia: the top five tips

If you have seen the Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia eCourse you will know that as part of that we make plans for coping during delivery and those early weeks and the Postpartum Checklist I have created will now be available as a special bonus for enrolling in the course. Also, for the month of August, while we promote the latest edition of Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book (updated to reflect my third journey) purchasers can email me proof of purchase and receive the checklist free too. Look out for my next post which will discuss things to consider prior to trying to conceive which will include another handy checklist that will also come with it.

So what are my top five things to consider for the postpartum period as a mama who has done this three times?

Arm yourself with knowledge

The first step is always to arm yourself with knowledge. You need to know what to expect during a “normal” postpartum period and what might occur as a mama with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue.
 As a good start you can check out my Pregnancy Resources page.
 Learn about breastfeeding, expressing, formula feeding and mix feeding so you are prepared for whatever happens. Take advantage of your midwife or doctor’s experience but disregard what doesn’t work for you. Take the knowledge that you can mix feed in so it doesn’t feel like all or nothing if breastfeeding is a kick in the pants.

Have your natural pain relief mechanisms down

Not only crafted a list, but actually use them so often that they are second nature to reach for. In the pregnancy and nursing period, the more natural options the better. This is not to say medicine doesn’t have a place, but natural options are vital. See this post for My Top Five Natural Pain Relief Mechanisms.

Research and discuss medicinal options with your doctor/medical team

Be prepared before you have had the baby and realise that your are having a massive flare up or the after pains are mean. Have your medicines pre vetted for the breastfeeding (if you are) and ensure that nothing you have been given interacts with the other. The Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia course has a list of advanced pain relief options including lots of places to go for more information, but www.drugs.com is a good place to start. I always encourage people to do some information gathering themselves so they can make an informed decision with their doctors.

Consider what and how you will tell the delivery team about your illness

In my first delivery/postpartum no one really knew what fibromyalgia was and I didn’t know what or how to tell them. For my second and third I knew better. I was able to advocate for myself much more strongly. Although my pelvis issues needed more advocating than the chronic pain and fatigue. Consider making a list with a brief description of your illness, how it might impact you in your labour/postpartum period, what medicines you are on, what you cannot tolerate and if there are any special considerations.

Compile a list of handy items that will help you

Things like urine alkiliser, warm socks, nursing bras, bottle spray with witch hazel for a sore botty, open button pyjamas, heat pack, your pillow and your pre approved medicines and natural pain relief options. All those things that will make you comfortable as a postpartum person and as a person with chronic pain and fatigue.

Free checklist with new edition of book or freshly updated course

For the rest of the items on the checklist be sure to grab your copy of Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book updated edition and then email me proof of purchase to melissa[at]melissavsfibromyalgia.com or enroll in Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia eCourse.

Or come and join the newsletter list and access it along with all of the other free resources in the exclusive members resources page!!

In Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book I share my research and personal journey through three pregnancies, deliveries and postpartum periods. In Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia eCourse I help you prepare for the best pregnancy, delivery and postpartum periods possible despite chronic pain and fatigue. It is practical, easy to understand, with heaps of resources and made by a mama who has done it all three times herself.

“This course gave me the confidence to know I will cope and I will get through it.” – A Fibro Parent