Tuesday Tip – Know Your Triggers

Fibromyalgia is a bit of a roller coaster ride. Although symptoms are always present there are certain periods of time when symptoms become profoundly worse. This is known as a flare or flare up. A flare up can come on suddenly for no reason at all, but most often they come because something in my life triggered them. This is why it is extremely important to know what my personal triggers are. Everyone’s triggers are somewhat different, but there are also many common triggers. I think the longer you have CFS/FMS the easier it is to identify them. For you newbies, keeping a journal might be helpful in seeing trigger patterns emerge. I am not suggesting that symptoms can be “controlled” or become entirely predictable, however; knowing how to protect yourself from a crash or flare that could be prevented is a step in the right direction. I thought I would share with you some of my triggers and then encourage you to identify your own triggers.

In random order, here are my triggers:

Over doing it physically. I know where the boundary line is and sometimes I think I can push past it because so much needs done. It’s so frustrating not being able to accomplish all the physical tasks that need to be done in a day. But I know when to quit and I have to stop. I require down time in my day and often a nap or rest. Gotta plan it in my day. To most people that probably sounds lazy, but for me it is a necessity for feeling well.

Not getting restful sleep. I struggled with insomnia for YEARS and finally taking meds to get consistent restful sleep brought me back to life after being bedridden. Bodies cannot function over a long period of time without consistent restful sleep.

Not getting enough sleep. Staying up late to watch movies or hang out with the hubby and/or friends is a thing of the past. Boo! My optimum is nine hours of sleep, but I can get away with 7 or 8. If I keep it at 7 for too long though, I will flare. Guaranteed.

Getting sick. When my body is fighting off a virus, my systems go wacko and pain and exhaustion set in on top of being sick. Good times.

Emotional stress. Crying, hurt feelings, anger, rage, disappointment, jealousy, discontentment, bitterness, sadness, frustration, grief, etc… Any of these in large doses will put me in bed. My body just can’t handle it and I will go out of my way to avoid these types of feelings. I won’t cover them up, I just don’t allow myself to knowingly be put in a position where I will become extremely hurt or angry. Of course, it is impossible to live life that way all the time, but I control what I can. I’m pretty good at evaluating my feelings and dealing with them before they cause problems.

Not building in recovery time. If I know I have an event or day that will be stressful and/or busy, then I must build in recovery time. This means that for a day or two after the event, I rest. Nothing else on the schedule, just rest.

Stressful relationships. I’m a nice person. I will be nice to anyone, but I won’t invest in people if they are always draining me. This is simply protecting my health.

Sick kids. For me, this equals little sleep, stressful days, lots of worrying, and daily routine interruptions. I love them more than life, but sick kids are exhausting.

Stress over the “to do” list. If you read my blog, you know how I love lists! : ) When the “to do” list is long and overwhelming, I will stress to the point of a flare. This is where prayer, meditation, and deep breathing help the most!

Too much socializing. I’m in introvert by nature. God designed me that way and I like it that way. But I also love to hang out with good friends and be social too. Too much of high energy talking and listening in social situations where I cannot relax is stressful to me. Stress=Flare.

I stay hydrated and eat every 2-3 hours. If I don’t eat on a schedule, I get dizzy, nauseous, light-headed, and grouchy. Preventing those feelings by eating is a good thing. I drink water 90% of the time and always have a bottle of water with me everywhere I go. Staying hydrated makes me feel well.

Traveling. Whether vacations or visiting family, any type of overnight travel is not good for me. It has to be done in some cases, but that is where I build in the recovery time. It is essential.

So, what are some of your triggers? I know that weather is a main one for a lot of people, but it doesn’t really affect me. I hate to be cold, but it usually doesn’t affect my pain. Share with us your triggers and what you do to prevent them.

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7 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip – Know Your Triggers

  1. You’ve covered a lot of my triggers. Cold & rainy weather does trigger a flare for me as well. What seems difficult for me is getting my body temp regulated. My lymph node in my neck swells at least once a month & I think it’s related to my body’s antibodies fighting my thyroid. In turn, my body feels cold most of the time. Warm baths w/ epsom salts seem to help some.

  2. I just found your blog. Thank you! You covered a lot of my triggers, too. I am finally learning to budget my physical and emotional energy Sometimes when I am feeling “okay”, I forget or ignore my illness and then, I suffer for it later (losing at least a day in bed). I am cold all the time — hands and feet like ice. One last thing — my husband snores loudly. I finally realized I should wear earplugs every night and that’s been helping me to get better sleep.

    • Yes, a snoring husband! I can relate, but haven’t figured out to fix it yet. I can’t wear earplugs b/c of I have small children that may need my attention. I’m still working on a solution for that one! : ) LOL I always have cold hands and feet too – it doesn’t seem to affect my pain though. I love WARM, COZY socks!!!! : )

  3. I was recently diagnosed with fibro a couple of months ago after dealing with some very confusing and debilitating problems for years. I just came across your blog and it was such an encouragement! I am only 20 years old and the diagnosis was devastating to me. I was dealing with all of the symptoms with the consolation that once I had a proper diagnosis, they would all go away. I am a musician as well and am struggling with all of the things I’ve had to “give up”. It truly is heartbreaking. I’m engaged to be married next year, and thankfully my fiancée has been so supportive. We are both trying to keep the diagnosis a matter of prayer and trying learn what we can about FM. It is so good to hear how the Lord is helping you, and to read your tips…they have been helpful! All I’ve ever wanted was a family and a ministry, and it’s been hard to accept how much fibro affects even the simple things, much less trying to be a wife and mother. I admire you for being positive and for reaching out to others with similar disabilities. May the Lord richly bless you!

    • It really is heartbreaking to accept the changes that come with the diagnosis. I admire your willingness to keep it a matter of prayer. God will continue to use you even amid pain! Life doesn’t stop, it just requires a different vision. Keep depending on Him especially through the really dark days. You are blessed to have a wonderful, supportive fiancee! Support really does make the journey easier! And God knows your desire to be a wife and mother. There was a time in my illness that I thought it would be impossible to have the energy to have/raise kids. And now I have five! God is good! Stay positive, Chelsea! God has great plans for you!
      Thank you for your encouraging words!

  4. Dear Ann, I am having a big flare at the moment. My husband travels every second week to a city that is about 4 hours drive from our town. Since a lot of my family stays there as well as my children and he usually have to be there for 5 days, I need to go with since I can’t stay alone at home alone that long. When we get back I usually stay in bed for a day regardless of how I feel. This time I was very clever and did not and now along with bitterly cold weather
    I am paying a long overdue bill in bed since I overworked myself on top of the travelling. An electric blanket is a lifesaver for me.

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