Stop That Holiday Fibro Flare BEFORE it Happens!

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The clock is ticking down the minutes to Christmas. Are you feeling squeezed between social obligations, work-related extra activities, and family events? You’re not alone.

It’s impossible to do it all, but when we’re pinched for time, what’s the first thing to get booted?


Scheduling time for a massage, committing to your regular yoga or tai chi classes, eating well, or getting the rest you need takes a back seat to the added pressures and expectations of the season. But if preventing a fibro flare is the goal – and I’m sure that’s your desire – then making self-care an absolute priority is critical.

Do you make time to get in your daily walk? What about getting to the gym, or pulling out your yoga mat and putting in that yoga stretch DVD? Finding time for fitness seems to be even more difficult when the weather doesn’t cooperate. At this time of year, we’re often over-tired which affects our food choices. In a chain reaction, our over-indulgences cause us to feel listless and less likely to keep up with our fitness goals.

This is a recipe for disaster (a.k.a. a fibro flare)!

It’s so important to take the time to care for yourself – especially when you don’t feel you have the time to do it. In fact, that’s exactly how to prevent the type of fibro flare that happens when we’re overwhelmed. Self-care should come first, then everything else follows.

But isn’t that putting the sleigh before the reindeer?

I know how busy things are right now. There simply isn’t enough time. I’d wager that in the past, you’ve hedged your bets that you’d skip all of your wellness activities and cross your fingers to get through the holidays without a flare.

Yes, that’s one method. You can choose to spin the fibro flare roulette wheel. But crossing your fingers isn’t a very effective method of prevention (I know because I’ve tried). 

So here’s a nitty gritty question: Would you rather take the time to care for yourself before a flare when it’s your choice, or after a flare, when you have no choice?

Maintaining your fitness routines is the perfect way to get through the weeks and months ahead.

10 Benefits from Fitness Routines

If you’re not aware, here are ten powerful benefits you can experience from your winter fitness routine that makes it well worth the simple effort:

  • Improved and boosted immune system (fewer winter sniffles)

  • Increased energy levels

  • Improved mood and subsequent feelings of happiness

  • Reduced pain levels

  • Reduced feelings of stress and anxiety

  • Improved range of motion for stiff joints and tight muscles

  • Improved cognitive function (an effective way to lift fibro fog)

  • Improved metabolism and nutrient absorption

  • Improved sleep (fall asleep faster, and stay asleep all night long)

  • Improved cardiovascular health 

I’m a multi-tasker. I like my fitness routines to do double duty, so I sometimes combine a fitness activity with a fun activity to maximize my time and efforts. The following examples demonstrate a few ways that this can be achieved at this special time of year.

Although I rarely step foot into a shopping mall, I do make an effort to go during the holidays to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season. Here are a few ways that you can — deck the halls and walk the malls!

  1. First, try something different. Rather than sharking the lot for the absolute closest spot, intentionally look for a spot further away. Even just a few extra parking spaces can add some healthful steps to your day. Want to get a “feel good” boost, too? At this busy time of year, consider driving past the first open parking space you see, and letting the car behind you nab it. This anonymous gesture of goodwill benefits you in more ways than one.

  2. Lace up your tennies, grab a buddy, and take a walk through your indoor mall. Plan a route where you can walk briskly while enjoying great conversation, beautiful decorations, and the festive surroundings. This isn’t a shopping trip – no credit card required. In fact, here’s a helpful tip – plan ahead and don’t carry a heavy purse or anything that puts strain or weight on your neck and shoulders.

  3. Walk up stairs. Many malls and shopping centers have large and open stairways. Maximize your fitness routines by challenging yourself to take advantage of the benefits that stairs can provide. If stairs weren’t so effective, they wouldn’t create stair-stepping machines at the gym. Here are a few tips to keep in mind. Make sure to walk near the guardrail and take rest breaks if needed (depending on the number of stairs). Also, walking UP stairs can provide amazing cardiovascular and muscle toning benefits. However, walking DOWN stairs is not recommended. Whenever possible, use elevators and escalators to go downstairs to avoid unnecessary added pressure and impact on your hips, knees, ankles and feet.

  4. Once you’re home, if you’re planning to host or attend a party, you may be faced with spending significant time on your feet in the kitchen. I encourage you to divide this task into three separate phases. Write down the recipes you plan to make, and review each for processes that can be done in advance (chop veggies, measure ingredients, etc.)

  • First, do the prep work for all the recipes, and then take a break. Drink water. Walk around your neighborhood, jump on a mini-trampoline (a rebounder), do some tai chi moves or yoga stretches.

  • After the prep work, complete the main parts of the recipes and when finished, take another break. Again, drink water, take a walk, or do some yoga stretches. Just make sure that you move your body in some healthy way. Even five minutes or so can provide healthy toning benefits.

  • Tackle the final phase; the cleanup. Get everything washed and put away. Now it’s time to reward yourself with another break of your choosing.

The principles outlined in item #4 can translate to any holiday project. If you’re decorating, crafting, or wrapping, make sure you take regular needed breaks. Let this article serve as a reminder to you of how important it is to keep your body moving – especially at this time of year.

A flare-up of fibromyalgia symptoms is never fun. And, it can be particularly frustrating at this time of year. What could a fibro flare keep you from this holiday season? Could you miss your child’s school play sending others to attend instead? Or, perhaps a flare could require you to dispatch friends and family members to the stores to finish off your shopping list. 

Keep this mantra in mind:

Motion prevents commotion.  

Motion (moving the body in healthy ways) can prevent the chaos that follows a fibro flare. Fibro flares affect you and everyone around you. The goal is to keep you healthy, so that you can do all the things that mean the most to you at this special time of year. 


Sue Ingebretson ( is an author, speaker, certified holistic health care practitioner and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. She is also a Patient Advocate/Fibromyalgia Expert for the Alliance Health website and a Fibromyalgia editor for the ProHealth website community.

Her #1 Amazon best-selling chronic illness book, FibroWHYalgia, details her own journey from chronic illness to chronic wellness. She is also the creator of the FibroFrog™– a therapeutic stress-relieving tool which provides powerful healing benefits with fun and whimsy.

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