What Treatments Help Me with Fibromyalgia: As Tested During Lock-down

Here I share eight treatments that help me with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. There is nothing like a challenge for a treatment that we think helps to ensure it works. The pandemic has been a good time to test all of my coping mechanisms.

Being at home with three small, high energy boys, much of the time alone, while trying to work 20 hours and manage my health has been a massive challenge.

But here’s the thing. Despite my neck and back being harder to manage -average pain levels went from mild to moderate – I had only one neck migraine attack and that was the first weekend. So what treatments help? What have I been doing?

what treatments help me with fibromyalgia during the lockdown

Here are the treatments that help me the most

Electric heat pad

This has been my best purchase of 2020. Instead of dragging myself out of bed, standing in front of the microwave for the heat pack to warm and then trying to get it in the right spot – I just press a button and have whole back and neck warmth. It’s been the best help.

Physiotherapy

I knew this helped my neck but man it helps my back too. After more than two months without being able to see my physio my entire back and neck were flaring. I also had trigger points in my chest, arms and legs. The acupuncture needles in the neck, shoulders and upper back had flow on effects. So did the ultrasound the physio did on the middle and lower back while the needles were in the top. That feeling of all my back ribs forming a cage on my back muscles and drawing tighter came back. My lower back, glutes and upper legs were tight. Surprisingly, my neck coped alright without the needles. I thought this was a guaranteed truth. So this was a mixed finding and I’m not sure what to do with this.

what treatments are helping me most with fibromyalgia

Self-trigger point work

Following from the above point, my self-trigger point work helped me manage so much better than I thought. With the additional computer work with my new job I was needing to manage trigger points in my SCM. This one I tilt my head to the side and rub down, pressuring trigger point I find on that tight wire like muscle. My upper trapezius trigger poibts required a lot of work between my hands and theracane massager.

Regular dynamic stretches

These have been the best learning ever. After years of static stretching doing little for my neck, my dynamic stretches for my neck are so useful for keeping those neck trigger points in check. It also helped me notice where the trigger points are restricting range of movement so I can tackle them first.

Yoga, meditation and breathing (three treatments that help in one)

When we first went into lock-down my chest was constantly heavy and tight – not from being sick, from the anxiety of the situation. Take the ability to plan from a person who uses strict planning to survive and you get the perfect breeding ground for anxiety. My breathing practices got me through this.

Each day, after lunch, I have done my guided meditation. I have had about 45 minutes of decent rest and relaxation. It has helped a ton. It is my favourite tool.

My yoga practice hasn’t really looked like a class. It’s looked like cat and cow whenever I need it and some puppy thrown in for some upper body tightness. It’s looked like doing downward dog, cat and cow and forward bend with an 18 month old climbing under me. I have used these tools and used them well.

If you want to look at yoga for fibromyalgia with me, then come and join this free workshop.

Avoiding white flour

Oh how this is something that works for my tummy. In the beginning of lockdown here we were limited to two breads per shop and there was no flour. So I found a 20kg bag of white flour. And proceeded to bake to my son’s heart’s content. And ended up with a very bloated sore tummy. I stopped eating it and was fine again!

Gentle walking

We have managed to start taking a walk everyday. It feels so good to be able to. I feel strong and so happy to now walk for 30-45 minutes. With no hangover pain (stretching afterward). It helps to be outside and to move these muscles and gentle walking has always been soothing to my upper body trigger points (don’t ask me how).

Sleep

I have always said sleep is king and I will continue to do so. We cannot be well and continuously sleep poorly. My sleep hygiene routines, walks, yoga, meditation, breathing, low dose naltrexone and magnesium all help me sleep. Even when my neck is interrupting me multiple times a night I am sleeping in blocks of a few hours which makes all the difference.

You will note that many of these are reactionary to trigger points – the trigger points are related to mechanical things like using the computer but they are also worsened by things like the central nervous system flaring (hello stress). Many of these also target more than one symptom, I am nothing if not efficient, which is why I adore yoga and sleep.

Share with us- what treatments help you? What have you confirmed over this time?

We talk about all of these things and more in the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Team and you’re spot is waiting for you now. Come and join us! You can even grab the first two weeks on me.

information tools support

Breathing, the Nervous System and Fibromyalgia

Breathing. It’s not sexy. It’s super subtle. Everyone does it every day. But we need to do it better. Optimal respiration can help us to calm the central nervous system and manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia better.

So many people do it incorrectly. Not breathing fully, chest or mouth breathing and more.

breathing, the central nervous system and fibromyalgia

Correct breathing is vital so that we can take the benefits it offers.

breathing well saves energy, improves energy, reduces pain and tension, helps us to activate the "rest and digest" response and more

Breathing well:

  • Saves energy
  • Improves energy
  • Reduces pain and tension
  • Helps us activate the “rest and digest” mode or the parasympathetic nervous system
  • Improves digestion
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces heart rate
  • Decreases stress
  • Improves cognitive function
https://youtu.be/9_AUMn8Cnrg

It can help respiratory issues, back and chest pain

“One of the benefits of breathing deeply is that it helps to release tension in the diaphragm and primary breathing muscles, relieving many long-term respiratory issues such as asthma and breathlessness. It opens up the chest, releasing tension from the intercostal muscles and around the scapula, erector spinae and trapezius muscles, allowing for a more relaxed posture.” From the article The Benefits of Breathing Deeply

breathing, the central nervous system and fibromyalgia

It helps us activate the parasympathetic nervous system and helps us to calm down

Just a few deep breaths can help us to relax and calm down. Even if we have been anxious, scared or in pain. It is the quickest tool in our arsenal to respond to stress. Please note I am not saying it can cure anxiety or depression – I am saying it can help (as an adjunct to treatment with your medical team).

Just a few deep breaths can help us to relax and calm down. Even if we have been anxious, in pain or scared. It is the quickest tool in our arsenal to respond to stress

Would you like a free, simple mindfulness challenge to fit it into your daily life? Sign up here.

It improves the cardiovascular system

“Deep diaphragmatic breathing tones, massages and increases circulation to the heart, liver, brain and reproductive organs. In one study of heart attack patients, 100% of the patients were chest breathers whose breathing involved very little diaphragm or belly expansion. Another study found that patients who survived a heart attack and who adopted an exercise regime and breath training afterward experienced a 50% reduction in their risk factor of another heart attack over the following 5 years.”

From the article The Benefits of Breathing Deeply

What does this mean for fibromyalgia?

All of the benefits that optimal respiration offers us are essential for people with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. We need to save energy, get more energy, reduce pain and tension, activate the rest and digest mode and all of the rest of the benefits mentioned earlier.

It is also easy to learn. And practice. Below we will talk about what breathing well is and my easiest recommendation for breathing. I have a couple of breathing practices for you on YouTube. But you will get a whole heap of breathing support in Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio. Starting with Breathing 101 module, continuing with pretty much every single yoga and meditation practice focusing on the breath. Breath is central to yoga.

inhale, feel the air fill your lungs and expand your abdomen. Exhale slowly. Breathing practice from melissavsfibromyalgia.com

So what is breathing well?         

Using your nose and not your mouth, filling your abdomen and not your chest. Taking the time to focus on it each day. Focusing on it is actually the simplest meditation you can do!

What is my easiest recommendation for breathing?

Inhale for four, pause for two, out for six. Adapting the numbers to what works for you, focusing on making the exhale slightly longer than the inhale. For example inhale for three, pause for two, out for four.

In the video below I share this simple practice

Look at breathing and other yoga tools to help you in this free challenge

Resources for the Home-Bound

Being home-bound is not unusual for many chronic illness fighters. But being absolutely unable to leave the house is new for most of us.

So in this post I am going to compile a list of things that you might like to do while you are home-bound. As new ideas come my way, I will add to it.

Please remember, that even if you are busy with small children or working, as I am (both), you still deserve to take time out for your own self-care.

home-bound resources list

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

Recipes/Healthy Eating

Would a massive list of low histamine recipes help with some ideas for cooking and baking? I have you covered with this list from Through the Fibro Fog.

Learning

Would you like to do some learning while you are at home?

Find 54 free online courses here from the best colleges in the US.

Alison -Their About page says, “We believe that free education, more than anything, has the power to break through boundaries and transform lives.” And living with chronic illness is definitely a barrier to further learning.

I have my eye on a few of their free courses for some future up-skilling. With options for 2-3 hour certificates or pathways for diplomas there is a lot to search through. Subjects range from touch typing to French to graphic design to project management.

Udemy is also a great option.

Coursera.org is another online learning platform.

You can also teach yourself some skills from YouTube videos. Think about what you have been meaning to learn about it likely exists there.

Movement

Would you like to keep moving, within the bounds of your current physical ability? I have you totally covered here.

My free yoga for fibromyalgia challenge is here. Give five yoga tools a go in your own time to see how you can incorporate them into your life in as little as five minutes a day.

If you would like my entire repository of online, on-demand yoga, breathing and meditation classes and courses then you are welcome to come and join Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio. I have been building this for several months now.

You could walk one mile in your lounge with Leslie Sansone. I love her videos. When I was struggling to do any movement when heavily pregnant with severe pelvis issues I did some gentle walking with these videos.

Restorative Yoga class designed especially for fibromyalgia.

Entertainment

Netflix. Hulu. YouTube. Basically any television service provider.

Amazon Kindle Unlimited offers a month free

  • Colouring
  • Reading
  • Puzzles
  • Games

Business

If you have a home business or would like to create one then you could start reading up now.

Here is a post I wrote about Ways to Make Money with Fibromyalgia

Jenna from the Bloglancer has two ebooks you might like to check out. The Blog Growth Toolkit and Blog to Business: Your Pitching Toolkit.

Self-Care

  • Take a bath
  • Do some yoga
  • Snuggle with your significant other/pet/child
  • Call a friend
  • Meditate
  • Make a list of your pain management options so you can use them as needed without floundering about forgetting what helps
  • Give yourself a massage
  • Breathing practice

Do you have any more tips?? Please comment below!

Could you please help me out? Share this post?

Hello friend, are you new here? I am Melissa a mama, fibro fighter and yoga coach. Join the newsletter list for updates, my free resources library and check out the archives – there are over 200 articles here to help you. My free course You vs Fibromyalgia is also here.

restorative yoga for the chronic life
Join us for the free workshop all about the super gentle type of yoga that I am super in love with!

The Central Nervous System, Restorative Yoga and Fibromyalgia

Let’s chat central nervous system, restorative yoga and fibromyalgia. A lot of research suggests that Fibromyalgia is the result of central nervous system dysfunction – specifically an overactive nervous system, stressing and exhausting the brain (Dennis W. Dobritt, Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview)

Having lived it for over 15 years, I would be inclined to agree.

Check out the video of my live training

It is not the sole problem, but it certainly causes physiological flow on effects, even after we have learned to calm it down again.

Like perhaps a switch gets flipped in our brain from some kind of trauma – an illness, childbirth, experiencing abuse of some kind, experiencing a natural disaster etc. and then it is very hard to turn it off.

the central nervous system, fibromyalgia and restorative yoga

The simplest way to put it

Simply put – we are too often in “fight or flight” mode and struggle to active the “rest and digest” mode.

Fight or flight is that response we have to stressful stimuli – a bear chasing us? Energy is diverted to the functions that are needed to fly, or run really fast! We experience that belly full of butterflies on crack, feel shaky, anxious and fearful.

The rest and digest response is that delicious restful feeling when we are totally relaxed – like during a good, gentle massage.

When you have a central nervous system over activation it is like you are stuck in the fight or flight mode. A chronic, low level anxiety that persists that you live with for so long you might not recognize it as anxiety – because you try to adapt.

This causes real problems in the body. If our energy is constantly diverted to scanning for threats and getting to run or protect ourselves, how can we have energy for normal functions? Digestion itself takes a lot of energy. Then being unable to drop into deep sleep because our brain is watching for threats, even more energy is drained. It is a big, vicious cycle.

What are some of the symptoms of a central nervous system over activity?

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Breathlessness
  • Inability to relax
  • Poor digestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Fear
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy

What are the benefits of a balanced central nervous system?

  • Better sleep
  • Less pain
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Relaxation
  • Good digestion
  • Heal well
  • Have enough energy
  • Less brain fog

Yes please to all of these!!

So, how can we treat an over activated central nervous system?

  • Rest
  • Sleep (easier said than done, I know)
  • Gentle breathing
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Restorative yoga
  • Removal of perpetuating factors

It’s not a quick fix…

From personal experience, I can tell you it is not a quick fix either. I have meditated, done yoga, worked on sleep, removed myself from perpetuating factors (as best as I can) and it is still a work in progress.

And – although my central nervous system is MUCH calmer, I am not magically healed. But with my whole of life plan in place, including a heavy amount of the above treatments, I am feeling much better.

For a long time meditation was my thing, particularly yoga Nidra guided meditation, because I needed the profound rest it offered immediately.

Gentle breathing was a great tool to reduce some of the constant tension in my chest, shoulders and neck. It is also fantastic at helping to calm the central nervous system when it gets flared again.

Right now, though, my jam is restorative yoga.

Why? Because it is a little less passive and easier to access for those who find it difficult to just sit still and breathe.

What are the benefits of restorative yoga?

  • Enhances flexibility
  • Total relaxation of body and mind
  • Improves capacity for healing
  • Balances the central nervous system
  • Helps us tune into our body
the central nervous system, restorative yoga and fibromyalgia

What is restorative yoga?

Well this is a big question. Because a lot of people get it confused with yin yoga.

Restorative yoga is a passive practice that utilises props (cushions, bolsters, blocks etc.) to achieve total support. Yin yoga also holds poses for longer than other yoga traditions, around five minutes or so, but it is looking for deep sensation and it is energetically more strenuous (while still being relatively gentle).

In a restorative yoga class you will have your props around you, it will be a calm atmosphere and you will like only do a few poses. There may or may not be calming music and essential oils.

Would you like to learn restorative yoga with me?

Join me in this free workshop to learn what restorative yoga is, how it can benefit us, try a restorative pose (the one that made me fall in love with restorative yoga) and more.

restorative yoga for the chronic life workshop

Sources

In this post I have taken my combined knowledge and written it up as you see. For some sources and further reading see below…

https://irenelyon.com/2018/09/30/9-benefits-nervoussystem-regulated/

https://www.everythingzoomer.com/health/2018/08/20/yoga-after-50-yin-restorative/

https://chopra.com/articles/10-benefits-of-restorative-yoga

https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/why-restorative-yoga-is-the-most-advanced-practice

https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/practice/why-restorative-yoga

My Top Five Self-Care Plans for 2020

Have you thought about your self-care plans for this year yet? Self-care is as vital as it is undervalued. Especially for busy women juggling multiple priorities. Add in chronic health issues and it should be compulsory.

Accidental multi-tasking is one of my favourite things – a two for one on your energy levels. When self-care doubles as something that also manages my health, I’m pretty stoked.

Here are my top five self-care plans for 2020 that also double as part of my chronic illness management plans.

Meditation


If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you will know that meditation saved my life. I do it every single day, and if I must miss a day it’s very rare. It gives me deep rest my body doesn’t even achieve during sleep. It tops up my energy levels for the afternoon. It calms my central nervous system. It is just for me. 15-30 minutes of pure self-care.

Try it: I have a free challenge for you to try it out for five days.

Do you meditate? Tell us about your practice in the comments!

My top five self care plans for 2020

Yoga


Ya’ll know I LOVE Yoga. Yoga is simultaneously mindful movement (gentle exercise), relaxation, stretching, strengthening, pain management and a sleep aid (for me). It balances the central nervous system which has been key for me.
I have shared extensively how I use it to help me. Here’s the short of it: One off poses, “micro yoga” formal practices (of 10-20 minutes) and a bed time class I made to help me wind down for sleep.

Try it: I have a five minutes a day for five days free challenge so you can see how the tools of yoga can fit into your life.

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

Have you tried this challenge? Please tell me if so!

Getting to bed on time


Sleep is way too underrated. Seriously, lack of sleep will kill you (slowly) and make you feel terrible. I’ve written extensively about it. Going to bed around the same time each night is a key part of good sleep hygiene aka practices that help you sleep.

Try it: Check out this post on sleep and how you can improve it.

Treat yourself


(Who just went, “What? I can’t treat myself. Ain’t nobody got time or money for that! It need not take much money or time!)

What is something that makes you feel super special that doesn’t cost the earth? This year I’d like to attempt something different each quarter: a manicure, a massage, a weekend away with the husband etc. With three kids 5 and under we’ve been snowed under and going to the physiotherapist every month has been the extent of it for me.

Try: Schedule something right now!
A manicure? Book one once a month, schedule a time to do it yourself, or swap with your friend to do each other.
Massage? Book one once a month, swap with your partner, or get out that lavender oil and give yourself a hand and foot massage.
A Saturday morning lie in? Negotiate with the partner if you have kids, or send them to grandparents/aunts/uncles and grab at least one a month.

Journaling


I am an analyst, a thinker, a written processor. So taking the time, even just five minutes to process with my pen is helpful for me to work through things. Even if you’re more of a talker, research shows journaling to be useful. You can have free reign to vent. To get things out of your head. Write down memories. Whatever works.

Try it: You can make a habit of giving yourself 1 or 5 minutes a day, a gratitude journal of just three good things or maybe you could draw in your journal.

Do you journal? Tell us how you do it in the comments.

Want to jump in and get some real, concrete help with your self-care in 2020?

So these were my top five self-care plans for 2020, I’d love to know what are yours?? Tell us in the comments below.

My top five self care plans 2020

What Does it Mean to “Do” Yoga, What Can it Look Like?

I am super passionate about sharing the tools yoga offers with people with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia. The thing that often gets in the way is what people think it means to “do” yoga.

Today I am going to share with you all sorts of raw pictures of me “doing” yoga because I want you to start to get a sense of the fact that “yoga” has been usurped by the perfect poses on Instagram. If you have a teacher who gets your situation, then they can help you adapt yoga to your needs.

A visual representation of the below points:

  • Yoga can be adapted for almost anybody (if you have been cleared to move gently and the teacher “gets” your needs)
  • Breathing is a central part of yoga (and many of us don’t do it optimally)
  • Meditation is my favourite part of yoga (yoga Nidra guided meditation is my jam, I do it in bed with my heat pack)
  • You can do one pose
  • I have several poses I enacted whenever I need them during the day
  • Chair yoga is a great way to make yoga more accessible
  • You can do yoga in bed
  • Classes can be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes or more
  • You don’t need to be super bendy, in fact, I am not

For the benefits of yoga, why I do it and more check out my post about Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue here.

Breathing

Me simply breathing, in hero pose (with a baby about to climb on my back, life). Breathing is one of the most accessible parts of yoga and really helps me to calm down when feeling overwhelmed.

A little more challenging

Me at the very beginning preparation phase of maybe one day doing crow pose (where you lift your feet off the ground)

Relaxation and meditation

This is the final relaxation of many classes, or an excellent standalone pose. This is complete rest. You can add all sorts of things to make it more comfortable, usually I have a blanket or cushion under my legs to help my low back.

If you are curious about restorative yoga (a passive, very gentle practice) then come and check out this free workshop Restorative Yoga for the Chronic Life.

restorative yoga for the chronic life

One that can be done in bed

You can do this on your bed (I like to do it as part of my bedtime routine)

A multi use tool

I am known to do this pose all the time. It is child’s pose, it rests the lower back and calms the mind. You can do it facing up on your bed (hugging your knees), with a bolster between your legs under your chest/abdomen to make it restorative. When the kids are overwhelming me or I’m feeling really tired, then I’ll drop where I am and do it. Often the kids follow!

Adapting to my needs

Using a block to bring the ground closer to me. I am not super bendy!

#notabouttheperfectpose

This is my son doing this pose not at all correctly but he is enjoying it and not in danger of hurting himself so I encourage him to play with me when I do yoga.

Using the chair

Me doing a chair sequence. I love using a chair because it means I don’t have to get on the floor. It also means I can do some of the poses in the car when I am not feeling so nice and on the edge of my bed if I am awake in the night.

My all time favourite that can be done almost anywhere

Me doing seated cat and cow – I do cat and cow all the time, in my favourite chair, on the side of the bed, in the car, on the floor and in my classes

I hope this gave you a sense of how “yoga” can look and hopefully hope that, if you want to, you could try it in one way or another.

Show me how yours looks

In Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue, I have students who take one or two of the poses in the opening module and use those as a “class” to start. There are two full class options in module three, chair and a flow class. Many students choose only the chair class.

For the first time I’m in a yoga class that I feel like I’m actually going to get it…I really can do this and I love how it feels.”

– Student of Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue

I’d love to see how your yoga looks. Comment below, tag me on Instagram @melissanreynolds

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 – it’s open now for you to see how you could “do” 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.

4 Healthy Eating Choices You Can Make Now with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

Nutrition is important for optimal health. What “healthy eating” means exactly varies from person to person. I have been researching food as a gateway to good health recently and while I haven’t settled on a massive lifestyle change such as paleo or plant-based etc I have formulated the below four key healthy eating choices you can start enacting right now.

Affiliate notice: Some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my link I will make a commission at no extra cost to you.

four healthy eating habits you can start right now

Here’s the video about it

I still don’t believe in making food a battleground or making massive changes without a lot of preparation, but these things I have managed while nursing with three children five and under and chronic pain and fatigue.

So here are my eating healthy eating changes you can make right now:

  1. Lots of fruit and vegetables.
    I am aiming for eight servings a day with most from a colourful array of vegetables.
    What are my secret weapons? Soups and smoothies. I have used my Nutribullet to make many types of smoothies with a mix of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and dairy free milk. I also make my dairy free milk using it! You can get your own Nutribullet here, I’m obsessed with mine!

2. Hydration – in the book Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Hydration they suggest many conditions are caused by dehydration. I am aiming for more hydrating drinks and less caffeine.
How? My first drink is water with some lemon. Then I’ll have my coffee with a piece of toast.  At morning tea I have a coffee with fluffy milk and some cinnamon. Then the rest of the day I only drink water.

3. Less grains – there’s a lot of discussion around grain. Having done a gluten-free trial a few years ago I know I am not allergic or intolerant but I am keen to reduce my reliance on grain based carbohydrates. By prioritising vegetables and fruits I have managed to de-prioritize grains. When I have them they are wholegrain and well soaked.

4. Avoid what you are intolerant to
If you suspect something doesn’t agree with you, avoid it for 30 days then add back in. Eliminating lactose has helped me a lot. If you suspect there are many issues in your diet and these four things are not helping then you might consider doing the Whole30 elimination diet or a similar idea. They remove the most common intolerances and then you add them back in one at a time to challenge them. This way you can eat what works for you.

Checking your intolerances

You can also check for intolerances with testing. IntoleranceLab provides Food Sensitivity Testing and is a quick start way to identify your intolerances. You just send them a sample of your hair. I have not used this lab personally because I am in New Zealand, but I have done intolerance testing using my hair and it was surprising what came up. I vaguely knew at the time that dairy was not good for me and that bananas were difficult to tolerate – and my test confirmed it. Simple!

So these are my four tips you can work on right now. I am actually finding subtle benefit from my changes. I am less bloated and uncomfortable and I am noticing that I am experiencing less reactive hypoglycemia (physical reaction to hunger such as dizziness and being hangry.) I am also able to eat slightly less often than I used to, which is a relief as I am over figuring out what to eat all the time!

What would your tips be? What have you worked on and found made a difference?


Want some help with your journey?

Come and join the conversation at Melissa (you) vs Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

Learning Options for Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

Do you miss learning? Or want to up-skill but don’t have any spoons leftover after life to go to class? Online learning options might be the way to go.

flexible learning options for those with chronic illnesses

I have found online learning options to be excellent for filling that gap as a mama with chronic illness. I’m not expected anywhere at any specific time. I can access lectures while wearing the fussy baby in the wrap. And while I am tired from the baby waking regularly in the night, since I have experienced the improvement in my symptoms from low dose naltrexone, I can’t bear not to indulge my love of learning.

Affiliate notice: Some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using my link I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Benefits of online learning for those with chronic illness

  • You can lie or sit however you need (in bed with your heat pack?)
  • You don’t have to leave the house at a specified time
  • You don’t have to do the work at a specified time
  • You can do as little or as much as you can fit in (around energy, children, etc)
  • You can use your phone, laptop, tablet or computer – whatever works best for you
  • Keep your brain active
  • Up-skill yourself no matter your current employment status
  • You can learn a hobby you have been curious about

Online courses are the most useful when you do the work and can demonstrate what you’ve learned. So if you want to put it on your CV, be prepared to talk about how it helped you and relate it to your work.

How to get the most out of online learning

  • Complete all of the work offered, the reading, the quizzes, the videos, the extras
  • Ensure you understand it all
  • Participate in forums provided
  • Practice what you have learnt
  • Ensure you understand what you have learnt and how it can help you in your career (if you intend to use it on your CV)

laptop cup studying

Below I share some learning platforms I have come used.

Lynda

When I was off work while pregnant due to severe pelvis issues last year I did a course on SEO (search engine optimisation) through Lynda.com. I had free access to this as my public library has a bulk membership which was awesome. The app was easy to use and there is a great selection of both longer and shorter courses. As a bonus it shows the certificate of completion on LinkedIn. There were no assignments but I practiced everything on my blog.

Udemy

Earlier this year I completed a life coach certification through Udemy. I paid just $11.99 USD (down from $200!) for my course in the January sale and it is a fairly comprehensive one. After this one I moved on to mindfulness certification and group coaching. Once I had completed my courses I received my certificate. I also joined the networking group associated with my course provider (The Transformation Academy) to learn even more. I also practiced my new skills as I went. I have loved every minute of the training, the practicing and then using my skills in this blog. It will also be useful when I go back to part time work. The beauty and tricky part of Udemy is that the courses are run by different people and are not necessarily vetted by Udemy. I highly recommend the Transformation Academy though.

Alison

Their About page says, “We believe that free education, more than anything, has the power to break through boundaries and transform lives.” And living with chronic illness is definitely a barrier to further learning.

I have just found Alison and have my eye on a few of their free courses for some future up-skilling. With options for 2-3 hour certificates or pathways for diplomas there is a lot to search through. Subjects range from touch typing to French to graphic design to project management.

FutureLearn

You can choose the premium (paid) option and gain access to all courses for as long as you need, or you can enroll in courses and complete them within a designated time frame without paying (but you won’t receive a completion certificate). You can choose short courses up to online degrees.

Subject ideas you may like to explore as a start

  • Nutrition
  • Health
  • Literature
  • Marketing
  • Writing
  • Coaching
  • pretty much anything you like!

Have you embarked upon any online learning? Do you have one you recommend?


If you are curious about up-skilling yourself for your fight to be well you might like to look into my learning options. To learn from the comfort of your bed, couch, or comfortable chair with your phone, tablet or computer. Take my shortcut – all my years of research, personal learning, trial and error to make your plans.

Fibromyalgia 101 Workshop Free – your free introduction to what fibromyalgia is, who gets it and how you might be able to treat it.

Mindfulness for the Chronic Life Workshop Free – your free introduction to mindfulness and how it can help us manage our chronics (chronic pain, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety)

Stretching Options for People with Fibromyalgia

As we know, fibromyalgia is a painful condition that many suffer from. In fact, it’s believed that in the United States alone, over 10 million people have some form of it. While medications might help calm symptoms, they don’t always have the best side effects or lasting results. Because of this, many often look for other methods they can use to help ease their symptoms.


This is a guest post from Dr. Brent Wells, a chiropractor who founded Alaska-based Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab. There is more detail about his work below.


Surprisingly, one of the best ways to help with fibromyalgia pain is to stretch. This is because it will reduce inflammation in the body and help to keep it active. Because of this, it will keep the body calm which can significantly reduce the symptoms of this medical issue. Below you’ll find more about why stretching is so important for those with fibromyalgia and some stretching options you can use to help with it.

Stretching options for people with fibromyalgia

Benefits of Stretching for Those Who Suffer From Fibromyalgia

There are many benefits that come with stretching if you have fibromyalgia. Below are some you’ll find if you do.

  • It Increases Serotonin and Endorphins in the Body

When you suffer from fibromyalgia, it can decrease the levels of serotonin and endorphins in your body. Serotonin and endorphins are neurotransmitters in the brain that help with emotions. When they have low levels, they cause the body to feel drowsy and irritable which can affect your mood and physical wellbeing.
Stretching can help by boosting the levels of these two chemicals in the body. It will help to improve your overall mood which can lower the side effects of fibromyalgia, like anxiety and stress.

  • It Can Help with Muscle and Joint Movement

Stretching works to help increase muscle and joint movements in your body. This can prevent nerve pain as you will keep these areas active. It also helps you to be more flexible.

  • It Works to Improve the Heart

You might be surprised to learn that stretching can actually help to improve the heart. This is because it will expand the surrounding arteries and keep them open and pliable. It also reduces any fat around the heart and can help you to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

  • It Can Improve Your Sleep

Stretching can improve your sleep because it reduces tension in the body. It also helps to release endorphins which can make you feel better both mentally and physically. This will encourage your body to stay calm which can help you to get a better night’s sleep.

lady stretching no att

Stretching Options for Those with Fibromyalgia

If you suffer from fibromyalgia, you’ll find there are a few simple yet extremely beneficial stretching options you can consider trying out.

  • Make Circular Motions with Your Joints

One simple stretching option for those with fibromyalgia is to make gentle circular motions with your joints. For instance, move your ankles around in circular motions and then counterclockwise ones. This will help to awaken your muscles and joints in the area but do so in a simple and pain-free way.

  • Do Calf Stretches

Calf stretches are very important as it helps to relieve tension in the Achilles tendon. To do a calf stretch, place your hands on a flat surface, ideally a wall. After doing so, press and bend one leg forward while keeping one leg back. Lean gently against the leg that is forward and then switch it with your other leg. You can continue this stretch for a few minutes.

  • Try Aerobic Stretching

Aerobic stretching can be very simple and helps to keep your heart healthy. There are a few different types of aerobic stretching you can consider:

  • Circular arm motions: stand straight and hold your hands out sideways. Then, move them in circular motions forward and then backward.
  • Jogging in place: you can stand in one place and start doing a gentle mini jog. This doesn’t have to be intense, just a few minutes of you slowly running in place.
  • Do Pool Exercises

Stretching in a pool can help you to move around more freely because the water doesn’t mix with gravity. This can make it feel as if you’re floating and give you more mobility. There are plenty of pool exercises to consider doing that are very easy to do. Some include:

  • Sidestepping: hold on to the pool’s wall and then take about 20 steps to one side while holding on to the wall. You can then reverse the direction.
  • Knee lift: hold on to the pool’s wall and carefully lift one knee up to your chest. Hold this position for about five seconds and then switch to the next leg.
  • Hip kicks: stand with your body sideways to the pool’s wall while holding on to it. Then, lift one leg up in the water as if you are kicking something and then switch to your other leg. Continue this motion with both legs for a few minutes.

Keep in mind though that if you feel any pain when doing stretches, stop immediately. This could not only worsen your fibromyalgia pain, but cause muscle strains and injuries.
Fibromyalgia doesn’t have to overtake your life. By doing simple stretches, you can work to naturally relieve many of its symptoms. Better yet, most of them are very easy to do so everyone can try them out no matter what stage of fibromyalgia you might have. Because of this, stretching is ideal to implement into your lifestyle to help give you relief.


About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Alaska-based Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998 and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.

Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.


References
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780
http://www.fmaware.org/about-fibromyalgia/prevalence/
https://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-exercise


If you liked this, you might like my posts:

Yoga and stretching for Fibromyalgia

Sleep and Fibromyalgia

Healthy Practices I’m Doing with Three Tiny Ones and a Chronic Illness