How to Face the Day During a Fibromyalgia Flare

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When you wake up in a fibromyalgia flare—with that feeling that you can’t move, as if a 500-pound weight has been dropped on you in your sleep—you can’t help but wonder how you can possibly face the day.

On mornings like this, the best thing you can do is limit your activity and rest. Still, even as your body takes the down time it needs, feelings of guilt or other negative emotions can make days like this even more challenging. However, making a few positive shifts in perspective as you start the day can make the difference in how you end it.

Accept the flare.

When you wake up in a fibromyalgia flare, you can either get mad and allow negative thoughts and emotions to make you feel worse, or you can accept what is and take steps to change it. 

On any journey, you can’t make the correct turns to reach your destination without first understanding and accepting your starting point. When you wake up in a fibromyalgia flare, accept that that is how you are starting the day, then encourage yourself to build your energy as the day goes on. Remind yourself that ending the day with more energy than you started with may require a few changes to your daily routine, then take that first small step toward feeling better.

Focus on self-care.

Your focus should be on self-care from the moment you wake up, before you even attempt to get out of bed. Keep a bottle of water by your bed and drink it before you start trying to move. Follow that with some light stretches in bed. Avoid physical exertion that may use your energy and leave you feeling more fatigued. Light stretching should feel good and warm up your muscles without making you more tired.

After you are feeling a little more awake, spend some time meditating to focus your attention for the day. Clear your mind of all the things you had planned for the day, of all things that weigh you down and make you feel stressed. Instead, focus your attention on wellness and feeling energized.

Other ways to practice self-care during a fibromyalgia flare include:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Resting
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Finding a reason to laugh
  • Limiting interaction
  • Spending time with a pet
  • Re-watching a favorite TV show or movie
  • Enjoying a good book

By giving yourself the time to rest—both mentally and physically—you can begin restoring your energy bit by bit.

Start small and avoid overwhelming tasks.

There is nothing as overwhelming as waking up in a fibromyalgia flare only to see a huge to-do list staring at you from your phone. The best thing to do when fatigue takes over is to wipe that list clean. Move everything that’s not essential to another day.

Cleaning the house will wait. If you have children to care for, do what you must, but enlist their help as well. The only task that should take top priority is caring for yourself. This way, you can have more energy to accomplish your tasks later and be better able to take care of others.

Motivate yourself with small tasks you can complete without effort, and commend yourself for what you are able to do. This may be as simple as just getting out of bed and getting something to eat. Take the day slow, focusing only on one simple task at a time.

Skip the mental gymnastics.

Don’t allow your thinking to get stuck in a loop, ruminating on what you should be doing or what you wish you were doing. Those mental gymnastics will only make you feel more stressed and fatigued. Give yourself grace and patience and remember that your illness is frustrating, but it is not your fault. You are taking control of your symptoms by taking care of yourself.

When you spend your time focused on how uncomfortable you are, you will stay uncomfortable. Focus your attention on the outcome you want to achieve—feeling better—and take small steps to achieve your goal.

You can’t control your body. You don’t pick and choose when fibromyalgia flares hit, but you can make choices that will help limit the pain and fatigue. By pausing and practicing mindfulness about the flare and how to fight it, you can end the day feeling better than you started, allowing you to start tomorrow with renewed energy.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 Aug 3
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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