Ancient woodland, Chronic illness, Fibromyalgia, Invisible illness, Trees, Uncategorised, Walking, Woodland

Just a walk…

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Bluebell Woods Photo by Nick

Now we are staying home, my one walk a day is more important that ever before.

I have to admit walking is something I hated, as a child. I remember having to go on walks and thinking, how much further, my legs will fall off in a minute!

So, what changed my opinion of walking?

I first started walking regularly before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, about fifteen years ago. I’d been suffering with lower back pain and sciatica, which got progressively worse.  I was unable to work. My doctor said I need to go to physio first; to get the muscles and joints moving and when I’m mobile to start walking regularly.

At the time I thought it was really unhelpful advice as I could barely move, let alone walk anywhere!  But after a few painful physio sessions. I started with short bursts at first of 5 to 10 minutes, progressing to longer walks.  Now I do a regular walk every day and have not suffered from back pain so much; I also have more energy to do things.

I find my walk stimulating now; especially on a fine sunny day, it can really lift your mood.

Observing nature and seeing trees come into leaf as spring approaches is really refreshing.

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Bluebells Photo by Nick

I live near a park and I can vary my daily walks through wooded areas and quiet residential streets. I usually spend about 25-45 minutes on a walk and vary the terrain.

Being a fibromyalgia sufferer I notice any temperature drop as the weather changes, straight away. My joints feel stiff, I get more pain and all my symptoms get progressively worse. I still try to keep active if I can everyday by walking. I wear layers and thermals to keep warm.

I have a pair of waterproof walking boots; which are great to wear in heavy rain. I bought mine from a outdoor clothing and footwear shop in the winter sale. I’ve also invested in a waterproof jacket,  woolly hat, thermal gloves and socks.
I find it difficult keeping my hands and feet warm, when it is really cold. Research shows we loose most heat from our hands and feet; so it makes sense to keep these areas as warm as possible.

If you plan to begin walking and have not exercised recently it would be advisable to start slowly first. If your joints are very stiff it might help to try gentle exercises before you start to warm up the joints.

When you feel ready to start put on some comfortable shoes and suitable waterproof clothing for the weather.  Start off slowly with short bursts of 5 to 10 minutes and gradually build up from this.  You will find you get more confidence and can do longer distances.

For more information about walking and exercise have a look at the NHS Walking  guide. Check before setting out the latest update in your area, on staying safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Chronic illness, Fibromyalgia, Invisible illness, Sleep, Uncategorised, Yoga Nidra

Trouble with #sleeping?…

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Photo by sergio souza on Pexels.com

A few simple changes can make a difference to your quality of sleep. I know this very well from first hand experience, having suffered from poor unrefreshing sleep for years.

After weeks of not sleeping the body’s functions become impaired making it extremely difficult to function in a normal way. (Whatever normal is for a fibromyalgia sufferer). 

“If you’re thinking, I don’t have fibromyalgia, it’s still worth giving these suggestions a try.”

“Insomnia, fatigue and pain are all part of life if you live with fibromyalgia.” The symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as fatigue and pain are all made worse with poor quality sleep.

Over time I’ve found some solutions that have helped me get a better nights sleep. Obviously, there’s no one size fits all with these suggestions. That said, it’s still worth giving them a go. Just being aware what might work is useful.

On occasions I still find I have some problems sleeping but I can solve these more effectively than previously.

Common problems experienced range from:

  • getting to sleep
  • staying asleep until morning
  • waking during the night
  • getting back to sleep after waking up

Have a look at the following suggestions for improving your sleep

  • Go for regular exercise every morning, for example a walk 

  • Check your bedroom temperature and lighting are beneficial for sleep 

  • Adjust your bed and pillows to make it as comfy as possible 

  • Invest in a electric blanket to warm the bed before you get in and help relax muscles 

  • Avoid smoking, over eating or drinking caffeine directly before bedtime 

My top tips for getting to sleep

  • Help your mind wind down for the day
  • Get into a regular sleep routine for adjusting your Circadian rhythm, try to get up at the same time every day
  • Turn off all devices that emit blue light an hour before bedtime
  • Read a relaxing book or listen to gentle music
  • Try a meditation, like yoga nidra or one for helping you to get to sleep 
  • Use ear plugs and a eye mask to block unwanted noise and light
  • Get into a comfortable sleep position and then try a relaxation routine 

Whilst you are asleep make sure your room doesn’t have anything that will wake you like a mobile phone.

A pet that sleeps in your bedroom and disturbs you in the night, should be encouraged to sleep elsewhere.

If you wake in the night and cannot get back to sleep get up and find something that makes you drowsy like reading or a yoga nidra sleep meditation.

If you find by morning you have not had enough sleep go back to bed and sleep for a while longer. If you catch up with a couple of hours sleep every night you will see the difference after a few months.

I recently read several articles which mentioned vitamin D (sunlight) exposure daily in the morning shortly after rising can help and mindfulness meditation both improved the quality of sleep in fibromyalgia sufferers. 

I believe this to be true because I usually get up and do a daily walk every morning and this regulates my circadian rhythm over the next 24 hours. It’s more important to get up at the same time every day than the time I go to sleep. 

I’ve found improvements in my concentration and ability to switch off at night after practicing regular Meditation on a daily basis. Explore meditation apps for sessions covering mindfulness and sleep. Have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help pages on  Meditation and  Exercise

If you have insomnia and it’s not necessarily fibromyalgia related, get it checked out by your doctor or health professional. If they prescribe sleeping pills it would be advisable to be referred to see a specialist sleep consultant.

Have a look at the  NHS sleep self assessment  to determine how good your sleep is.  From this link you will find some helpful information about sleep.

Blog, Chronic illness, Fibromyalgia, Invisible illness

I may not look in #pain but…

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Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

I have an illness that’s not visible.

Although you cannot see it

For me #fibromyalgia is real.

It causes me #chronic pain and #fatigue.

The pain can be debilitating and constant.

Some days it can get better or worse.

It’s altered my life choices

I’m not asking for sympathy

Just empathy

If you’ve never heard of fibromyalgia or know very little about it. Please take a few minutes to read this.

What is fibromyalgia?

Briefly, it affects the skeletal muscles throughout the body, causing varying degrees of pain.

The pain ranges in severity from day to day and it is affected by temperature,

stress

and the amount of physical activity carried out.

Fibromyalgia sufferers commonly experience a range of different types of pain.

The pain can range from a sharp stabbing pain,

an ache

and a burning pain.

Other symptoms that can be experienced are

fatigue,

poor sleep quality,

stiffness,

IBS,

headaches,

cognitive problems

“Fibro fog”,

depression,

dizziness,

anxiety

and painful periods.

Have a look at the NHS description of fibromyalgia for more in depth information about the condition.

Invisible Illness and Fibromyalgia 

One huge difficulty of living with fibromyalgia is it’s an invisible illness; others assume you are well because there is no physical evidence of being ill.

In my personal struggle with fibromyalgia this single fact has caused me the most stress over the 15 years I have had it.

You may ask, if you know someone or meet someone with fibromyalgia. What should I do?  Showing them compassion and learn about their symptoms can make a difference. Just taking the time to talk about it with them will help.

If you have just been diagnosed and are trying to find links to support groups and the online community. Have a look at the organisations below and also Facebook groups.

UK Fibromyalgia is a brilliant site that covers a wide range of information about fibromyalgia.

Also

Fibromyalgia Association  is a registered charity that provides information and help to sufferers.

Chronic illness, Diet, Exercise, Fibromyalgia, Invisible illness, Meditation, Uncategorised

I have #fibromyalgia…

adorable animal breed canine
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Fibromyalgia affects around 1 in 20 people. Although most people have no idea what fibromyalgia is; let alone what it’s like to live with.

So, here’s a brief guide for anyone who doesn’t know anything about fibromyalgia.

What is fibromyalgia?

Its a long term chronic health condition characterised by pain. The pain ranges in severity on a daily basis from mild symptoms to severe pain in changing areas of the body.

The main symptoms are:

Pain throughout the whole body 

Joints and muscles feel stiff

Quality of sleep can be poor

Feeling tired and fatigued 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Extreme Sensitivity 

Cognitive problems, feeling confused, or dazed, sometimes called Fibro fog

Headaches

Depression 

Anxiety 

Painful periods in women 

The symptoms can vary from person to person.

Symptoms can get better or worse from time to time.

Factors that influence this are:

  • the amount of stress you are experiencing 
  • how much daily exercise you have
  • and changes in climate and temperature 

Further information is available on the NHS website.              

If you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, consult your doctor or health professional. They will run a variety of tests to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition.

There’s no cure….Yes you did read that correctly; there’s no cure, but…

I’ve lived with fibromyalgia for 15 years and found some times are really tough.

The single most upsetting factor for me has been other people’s perception of ‘living with fibromyalgia’. They almost always get it wrong. So, if you meet someone who has fibromyalgia, tread carefully. Don’t jump to conclusions about how they feel. Listen to them. After all they are living with it on a daily basis.

The positives are my symptoms are still there, but have improved greatly since I was first diagnosed.

I have been able to boost my general health through diet, exercise  and meditation .

This is a short post about symptoms, living with fibromyalgia is another story…

If you would like to read more about what helped me, follow my blog and have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help Pages.