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.