Excerpt from “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fibromyalgia” by Lynne Matallana. From chapter 20, “Twenty-Five Quick and Easy Tips for Feeling Better” By Lynne Matallana When we deal with a big problem, we often feel that it will take a big solution to help resolve the problem. Luckily, this is not always the case. Many difficult symptoms of fibromyalgia can be dealt with via small lifestyle changes or easy, unsophisticated treatments. It is always exciting to find a simple remedy that has a big effect on your health. Although some simple remedies have no steadfast scientific explanation as to why they work, we accept them because they do work. How many of us have suffered with a common cold, only to feel better after eating a bowl of grandma’s homemade chicken soup? You should rest assured that like grandma’s soup, there are some easy tips you can practice to help improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Don’t underestimate the impact that an easy tip might have on your quality of life!
Problems with Cognition and Memory Tip: Slow down the pace of your life.
Explanation: Among the more common fibromyalgia symptoms are cognition and memory problems, affectionately referred to as fibro fog. Many memory problems result from doing too many things at one time or continuing to function even when you are overly fatigued. Slowing down and paying attention to the amount of thoughts and activities you are processing through your brain at one time can help reduce the symptoms of foggy memory. After you have reduced the amount of information you are processing, practice the following: Repeat things to yourself, write things down, and eliminate things in your environment (noise, interruptions, excessive light, bad smells, and so on) that distract or over-stimulate you. If you have to do something that requires a lot of concentration, try doing it at a time when you feel less fatigued.
Sore, Stiff Muscles Tip: Soak in an herbal bath and lightly massage your muscles with an herb-filled washcloth.
Explanation: A warm or hot-water bath, filled with a mixture of soothing herbs, can calm sore muscles and relax your mind. Deep, moist heat can even calm your internal organs. Take a small handful of each: valerian, lavender, linden, chamomile, hops, and burdock root; simmer the herbs for 15 minutes in two gallons of water. Strain the herbs from the infused water and place them in a soft cotton washcloth. Pour the infused water into your bath, adding enough warm water to fill the tub three-quarters of the way full. Soak in the herbal water for 20 to 30 minutes. (If you have dry skin, reduce the amount of time you spend in the water.) Use the herb-filled cloth to lightly massage areas of your skin or muscles that are particularly painful or tense.
Feelings of Stress, Loneliness, and Fear Tip: Adopt a pet.
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Explanation: Research shoes that pets have a therapeutic effect on their owners. They can actually reduce a person’s blood pressure, muscle tension, and other physical stress responses. They also have a positive effect on their owner’s mood. Animals are excellent companions who give unconditional love and don’t talk back. They bring out our nurturing spirit and help us feel more secure and safe. Studies have shown the pet owners live longer, healthier lives. So what kind of pet is best? Pick a pet that fits your interests, temperament, lifestyle, and environment. Anything from a tropical fish, dog, bunny rabbit, or even a horse will have that affect; a pet has the ability to divert your attention away from your pain and beyond yourself.
Excessive Pain While Trying to Do Household Chores Tip: Pay attention to your back. Household chores can put extra strain on your spine and the muscles in your back.
Explanation: Fibromyalgia pain can be exacerbated by simply doing the normal daily activities of caring for your home. To protect yourself from hurting your back or causing additional body strain, remember to practice the following: –When you attempt to pick up a heavy object, always bend from the knees, not the waist. As you lift, hold the item as close to your body as possible. Turn by stepping in the direction you want to go. This will protect you from twisting your body and straining your spine. Think about what you are doing to prevent quick, painful movements. –While talking on the phone, do not cradle the phone between your ear and shoulder. Always hold the phone with your hand, or better yet, use the speaker phone or headset. Relax your back by taking rest breaks when doing household chores. If you sit on a couch, do not prop yourself up by using the couch’s arm. This can cause your back to be put in an unnatural position and result in lack of circulation to your arms, shoulders, and back. Use smaller pillows at the small of your back or under your arms to provide you with support and good posture. –When doing a chore that requires you to stand in one place for an extended period of time, use a footstool to prop up one foot. This takes the strain off your back and keeps you from locking your knees under you. –Store pots, pans, and bowls in cabinets that are at waist level. This eliminates the need to bend and life these heavy objects. –Eliminate reaching and bending by using long-handles dusters, mops, and cleaning brushes. Use a “grabber-device” to help pick up lightweight items or things out of your easy reach. –Share the chores with your family. This allows you to perform the tasks that are less stressful on your back and body. –When doing laundry, don’t overload a laundry basket and carry it through your house or down your stairs. Instead, place a few clothes in a dirty towel or sheet. Make the bundle light enough to carry or drag the bundle behind you. There is no need to carry laundry down a staircase when you can drop it over a railing.
Sore Feet, Bruises, and Stomach Upset Tip: Using earthy solutions can relieve pain, fatigue, and a variety of other symptoms.
Explanation: Earthy solutions include plants, herbs, and natural food products that can bring relief to health problems. Remember, however, that just because something is derived from a plant or is called natural does not mean that it is always safe. Use common sense and always tell your health care professional what you are taking.
Examples of earthy solutions include the following: –Sore feet. Soak sore feet in peppermint and chamomile tea. –Bruises. Rub in Arnica oil or cream. Arnica montana is a daisy-like mountain flower that seems to relieve bruising and swollen joints and muscles. –Intestinal upset. Acidophilus changes that intestinal flora and reduces the chance of getting diarrhea, stomachaches, gas, and bloating. –Fungus. Tea tree oil is helpful in eliminating fungal infections including athlete’s foot. –Stomach upset. Chamomile tea (made from the chamomile flower) can help relieve nausea and menstrual cramps, and promote sleep. –Cut or insect bite. Lemon oil can act as an antibacterial antiseptic for minor cuts and insect bites. Lemon juice is a digestive stimulant that helps with digestion and constipation. –Anxiety. Lavender tea possesses the ability to calm the nervous system and relax your mood. Even the smell of lavender can have a calming effect.
Editor’s note: The preceding five tips are excerpted from “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fibromyalgia” by Lynne Matallana, reprinted with permission, and copyright © 2005 Lynne Matallana. There are 25 terrific tips in the chapter from which these 5 tips are taken. To buy the book, please visit Amazon.com