There are debilitating symptoms that plague Fibromyalgia and CFS patients including pain, unrelenting fatigue, and depression. Women go from one doctor to another trying to get some real relief. Often the only options they are given is heavy duty pain pills and antidepressant drugs that make them feel like a zombie. There are some different answers in alternative therapies. The route to your recovery must begin with mind-body therapy. They symptoms of Fibromyalgia and CFS are not in your head, they are real. But the state of your mind and thinking can bring on a flare or make it worse. This article is how to use your mind to help your healing and relieve symptoms.
How Negative Self-Talk and Thinking Affects Symptoms: When you are feeling bad for days or weeks, you may begin to say,” I will never get better!” or “Life is not worth living, I feel so bad!”. What many people don’t understand are that these negative feelings and self-talk trigger changes in the body. This negative talk may cause you to experience pain more severely. Your body in response to the emotions of the negative self-talk, release adrenaline and cortisol in increased levels. These hormones in unhealthy levels cause symptoms such as muscle tension, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and anxiety. This has a great influence on the severity of your pain cycle. It becomes a vicious circle. There is a therapy that greatly helps this cycle. It is called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
How Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Work:
Doctors who are specialists in Cognitive-Behavior therapy have shown great success in Fibromyalgia and CFS by teaching women how to use their mind to interrupt this pain cycle. To get well it must start in your mind.
The therapist will help you to see how your negative talk and emotions impact the severity of your symptoms. You will begin to see that your intense focus on the pain and symptoms make them worse. Your emotions impact your physical symptoms. This obsession with the pain begins to control your life, your activities, and your relationships. This therapy will help you feel less helpless and will help you to take back control in your life.
In the next step, the therapist will help you to restructure your thinking and self-talk. You will learn how to interrupt this negative self-talk and thinking. You will receive understanding on what triggers your symptoms and how those triggers result in intensified pain. Triggers may be stress, a stressful time of day such as when your husband comes home, or a person. For each person, it will be different. You may not even realize that it is happening.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy needs to be supervised by a licensed therapist. It is not a one visit fix. It may take several sessions over some time to help you first understand how CBT can help you and then how to use the therapy. Considering most women go years with debilitating depression and pain, this is improvement in the full sense of the word. Many studies have shown that a 6 to 12 week program resulted in reduced pain, reduced depression, with improved sleep and mood.
Pacing Your Activity Level: In Fibromyalgia it is best to take life at an even pace. You may be prone to overdo things on days you are feeling better, but that can trigger a flare. Even on bad days, set a goal of getting the minimum done even though you have to drag yourself through the chores. If you can get the minimum done, you will feel better mentally. On the worst days, do one chore at a time, rest, then the next. Focus on each goal as you do it, not all the chores for the whole day. One chore, one step at a time.
Make Time for Fun: Even if you don’t feel like it, do it. Fun might be a visit with a friend or a few minutes with your hobby. Read a book. watch a movie, listen to music, read a favorite magazine or just make a phone call to touch bases with someone. If nothing else, sit outside and watch the beauty of the sunset. Sit in your garden and watch the birds and hummingbirds drink from their feeders. This is one of the activities that give me both peace and joy. Simple things can make a difference.
Acknowledge The Beauty In Life: Realize that life is a gift, even when you feel bad. The fact you are breathing, you are alive, and that someone loves you is a gift. Life is precious. I say that because I almost died over two years ago. It puts so many things into perspective.
Set Your Mind To Healing: When you focus on the pain, you give it power and control. Instead, give healing your focus.
I deal with chronic knee pain from an injury and kidney problems from that same car accident. There are days when I don’t feel like taking the dogs for their walk. As soon as our dogs drag us up and out, I feel better. My husband feels better. My knees do not hurt worse for the exercise, they feel better. Even if they hurt, I know it is for my well being and health, that we exercise. There are days when I don’t feel well, but articles are due. Once you begin to get control over your day and your life, you will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I fully understand how hard it is to implement these principles. You must focus on the end goal not give in to the way you feel. It is mind over matter in the most serious sense of the statement. You must remember how important it is to do that one thing. So to those of your reading this article, you must use your self-talk and mind to get you out of this circle of fatigue and pain.
New Hope For People With Fibromyalgia, Theresa Foy DiGeronimo, M.Ed., pp.141-170, Prima Publishing, 2001