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.
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.
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.
Would you like to do some learning while you are at home?
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.
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.
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.
Micro yoga is such a good tool for managing chronic pain and fatigue. The benefits of yoga are continually being proven in research, especially for chronic symptoms. I want to share what micro yoga is, how micro yoga helps me as a mama with chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia and tiny children and how you can use the tools too.
What is micro yoga?
It is simply yoga that is not a traditional length or what we typically (in the west) think of as “yoga”.
I literally do 5-30 minute snippets at a time. As a person with chronic symptoms I find it much better to do 10 minutes regularly than one hour once a week.
I’d take it one step further and call my yoga super accessible micro yoga. When done right, yoga is super accessible for us and what we need.
What does this look like?
Five minutes of asana (stretches) when I am getting dressed.
A random pose to help my back when it is feeling tight during the day.
Five minutes of breathing when I am feeling overwhelmed.
“By weaving micro practices into your everyday life, you will: Cultivate a consistent yoga routine that won’t overwhelm your busy schedule Have the tools to reset your mood and energy with just a few breaths Feel empowered by the quality of your self-care Recognize that small acts can make a major difference in your physical and mental health.”
I use micro yoga as part of my toolkit for managing pain and fatigue.
You might like the targeted stretches section starting pg 65. The best part of The Little Book of Yoga Practices is the succinctly described pose section. You can see what resonates and try one or two at a time.
The one minute miracles section is a gold mine! Pg 82
Rachel might not specialise in yoga for chronic pain and fatigue but her books are great resources when you are trying to build a micro yoga practice. And the size of The Little Book of Yoga Practices means it isn’t going to be hard on the old brain fog to get through, it is succinct and easy to follow.
I have a thing about making toolkits for you – assembling tools that can help you right now.
Would you like to try some relaxing poses right now? I have a few for you!
If you want yoga designed especially for people with chronic pain and fatigue, by someone with chronic pain and fatigue, then check out Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio. You will get new resources added monthly, Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue course, The Bed Yoga Toolkit, access to the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Library and much more. All for one low monthly membership. I’d be delighted to share these tools with you.
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, decreased rate of breathing, decreased blood pressure, decreased muscle tension, decreased heart rate and increased slow brain [alpha] waves. 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.”
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?
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.
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:
Do I believe I can improve?
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:
Pacing and energy management
Nutrition and food intolerances
Central nervous system/meditation
It is a big task that will take time.
You need someone on your team who:
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
If you want to start your own small, sustainable steps join us in Yoga and Meditation for the Chronic Life virtual mindful movement studio, here we take mindful movement, breathing, meditation and turn them into tools for daily symptom management.
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?
Do you enjoy this work? Would you like to join the mission to ensure people with fibromyalgia receive the tools, encouragement and hope they deserve and get yourself into the exclusive Melissa vs Fibromyalgia membership library? Become a patron using the pay what you can membership option from just $5 a month today. This is a sliding scale membership so in addition to supporting this work you will also get some cool bonuses for yourself.
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.
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:
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!
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?
So what would I keep in this list? What would I add?
My current understanding is that there are six key areas to fight chronic pain, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia:
Knowledge and taking control for ourselves
Central nervous system
Fatigue and pacing
What works for me right now?
Find the video here
Sleep is the biggest component of my journey. I will discuss this more under Low Dose Naltrexone, below, but it is HUGE. See also my giant insomnia post for more.
Aside from sleep and physiotherapy I do a lot of stretching, self-trigger point work, yoga, meditation, essential oils, heat and more. I am employing more natural remedies than medicinal.
Low Dose Naltrexone– is now number one on my list. This one covers sleep and pain management . It helps me sleep in more than one hour blocks, which has been the biggest part of my puzzle. Now, when I sleep only six or seven hours (due to the baby) but a few hours in a row, I feel infinitely better than I ever did on my eight or nine broken hours. As a result I experience less pain, less anxiety, less brain fog. More health and a much better quality of life.
Physiotherapy – this is still crucial, more specifically the insertion of dry needles into trigger points and left for 15 minutes to rest to encourage blood flow and relaxation followed by stretching and mobilizations. I only have to go every three weeks at the moment, which is a big win as I pay privately for every treatment. Learn more about myofascial pain syndrome and trigger points here.
BONUS: Building my toolkit of things I can do myself anytime, anywhere to help. Yoga is a huge part of this for me. I use yoga and meditation daily to help. From getting to sleep, in the middle of the night, in the day time and at random times. If you would like to learn from my toolkit, then join us in Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio now!
A combination of reduced work hours and reduced activity levels. Both are key. Reduced work hours is the first thing that jump started my journey to wellness and is still part of managing my energy envelope.
Perpetuating Factors/Normal Human Needs
For me, this means managing the myofascial pain syndrome and the fibromyalgia. Most of my six key ways hit multiple symptoms. Aside from managing my posture, avoiding triggers and sleeping as best as I can, these two are important:
Nourishment – I am learning about the importance of nutrition right now. I haven’t yet finalised my template for eating going forward but all of my research seems to suggest the number one thing we can do is prioritize vegetables and fruits. Then I am prioritizing healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil etc) and good quality protein. This leads to a lower consumption of grains. As an offshoot, supplementation, is key. I am using magnesium and 5HTP to sleep (after finally getting off amitriptyline after years which precluded 5HTP). I also supplement with MSM as our soils are generally deficient in sulphur and this seems to help me. I am preferring whole foods over supplements – I am taking moringa powder or hemp powder for naturally occuring vitamins and minerals.
Gentle exercise – this is still key but I am able to do more than I was previously. I can now do 30 minute walks without pain hangovers. My exercise of choice includes yoga, walking and Pilates.
Central nervous system
Meditation– this has only become more integral to my daily life. I have meditated daily for more than five years now. I use it for rest (I can’t nap), for pain relief (or a break from it when it is bad) and stress relief. The benefits I have reaped since my initial post are so many that I am a mindfulness and meditation cheerleader. You can sign up for my free workshop Mindfulness for the Chronic Life here.
So these are the key things that are working for me now.
I know it is complex. It has taken me years and a lot of research and personal trial and error to figure out. I have provided many links in this post to help you in your research.
Do you like the work I do here ensuring that people with fibromyalgia receive the tools, education and support they deserve? Especially while pregnant. Then consider joining the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Inner Circle Membership group and get access to the exclusive members library. It’s a pay what you can model starting at just $5 per month.
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.
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)
Below I share some learning platforms I have come used.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
This is another interview with a fellow fibro mama, this time we are learning about how one mama uses essential oils to manage chronic pain, fibromyalgia. Since this interview was conducted Kara welcomed her gorgeous baby.
Could you introduce yourself in a few sentences for us?
My name is Kara Carril, I’m 28, and soon-to-be first time mom! I live in Arizona with my husband and our two dogs, Diesel and Rain!
How did you get into essential oils for fibromyalgia?
My mom is a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils here in the US. After she had breast cancer 10 years ago, she got into living a more chemical-free lifestyle. She did a lot of research on essential oils and the potential help they could give to autoimmune diseases. She has fibromyalgia as well as ankylosing spondylitis amongst other health issues. The oils helped her pain management dramatically, so she eventually introduced them to me, and I was hooked!
What are your favourite ones and what do they help with?
The ones I use most often are lavender, frankincense, copaiba, PanAway (a blend), Valor (a blend), cedarwood, and eucalyptus/peppermint. I use lavender and cedarwood mixed with distilled water for a pillow spray before bed. It helps calm and relax to be able to go into a deeper sleep. I use lavender/cedarwood in mascara to help strengthen lashes (I know it’s not fibro related but a cool trick!-just a drop of each).
I use lavender/frankincense in homemade face soap with coconut oil and baking soda. PanAway I use on my back spasms. Valor and copaiba I also use on my back spasms. Valor is often referred to as a “chiropractor in a bottle” and copaiba is compared to “morphine in a bottle” and often enhances whatever other oils you use in conjunction with it. I use eucalyptus/peppermint on my sinuses and throat when I feel I’m getting sick, and I also use either with lavender and epsom salts in baths when I’m having a bad flare up.
I will stop using peppermint when I’m breastfeeding though because it is said to drastically reduce your milk supply (good for when you’re trying to stop producing though!).
“The ones I use most often are lavender, frankincense, copaiba, PanAway (a blend), Valor (a blend), cedarwood, and eucalyptus/peppermint.”
Do you have any blends you make yourself?
Lavender/Cedarwood for sleep/relaxation- 5-10 drops of each in a 3oz spray bottle filled with distilled water. Make the strength based on your scent preferences. I also spray it on the bottoms of my feet before bed or will use straight lavender drops when my feet are really sore. I also use this combo in my diffuser at night next to my bed.
I make a ton of diffuser blends based on what my needs are. Lemon/peppermint combo is really good for getting rid of stinky smells, lavender/cedarwood is great for relaxing/sleep. Orange and lemon or any citrus combination is great for morning and energy! Ginger, peppermint, and lemon is good for tummy aches too!
For more research into using essential oils in your journey you may like
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.
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.
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. Wells is a chiropractor who founded Alaska-based Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab. This practice offers numerous services to help those with everything from mild to severe pain and is designed to provide great care to those on the search for top Anchorage chiropractors in AK 99515.