Smart solution: Count your blessings'and ge..." /> Tackle your fibromyalgia challenge!

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Tackle your fibromyalgia challenge!

If it feels like the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia are getting the best of you, take heart: We asked our readers for the smart strategies that helped them overcome common fibromyalgia hurdles. Read on to steal their solutions!

Kristina Mastrocola

Provided by HealthMonitor

Fibro challenge: "I was a big stress ball!'

Smart solution: Count your blessings'and get creative!

Mary Harper, 58, president of the Fibromyalgia Association of Houston, says when she feels stressed out, she takes a few minutes to count her blessings. "It's especially helpful when I can't sleep'I count my blessings instead of sheep," she reveals. "I like to say whatever pops into my head, kind of like free association: I'm grateful for my soft bed sheets, my air-conditioning'my nose." Her nose? "Yes! It works, doesn't it? It takes in fresh air!" she says with a laugh. "I like to think of things I'm grateful for, because I never know what'll pop into my head'I kind of surprise myself and that takes me away from my worries, easing tension in my mind and body."
Why it can help: A study published in the European Journal of Pain suggests negative feelings can increase pain in women with fibromyalgia. Staying upbeat is key, and taking a cue from Mary'by noticing unusual or unexpected blessings'is an effective way to remain positive because it's a lighthearted exercise that requires attention-focusing creativity.

Fibro challenge: "I felt like napping in the supermarket!'

Smart solution: Create a bedroom "blackout.'

Christina Relacion of Beverly, MA, was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia last October, but the 31-year-old communications manager says her symptoms appeared as far back as high school. "I had TMJ [temporomandibular joint disorder] when I was a teenager," she says. "And as an adult, I started having severe migraines. Only recently did all the symptoms'joint pain, muscle aches, back problems'kind of intersect to form one diagnosis." The most challenging part? "Fatigue'it's been huge; even when I'm grocery shopping, sometimes I just want to sit down in the aisle and sleep," she says with a laugh.

Rather than make a pillow out of a cereal box, Christina took action: "I learned to prioritize sleep by making sure I stick to a pretty regular schedule. I also changed a few things in my bedroom." Her easy solutions? "I put "blackout curtains" on the windows and stopped bringing my laptop and cellphone in with me. My husband also keeps the alarm clock on his side of the bed, so the light doesn't disturb me." The thermostat also plays a part in Christina's sleep-friendly zone: "I like to keep it cool'about 62 degrees. That makes it a lot easier to get cozy under the covers and fall asleep.'
Why it can help: Taking just a few minutes for a pre-sleep ritual'to close the curtains, lower the temp and relax without a glowing screen nearby'helps you drift off to dreamland faster, confirms the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Fibro challenge: "I felt depressed and out of sorts.'

Smart solution: Fine-tune your "neural gateway.'

Jean McMillan, a 58-year-old retail professional from Union City, TN, has stayed awe-inspiringly active since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia two years ago: "I like to vary my workouts and do everything from low-impact aerobics to weight training to what, at my gym, is called "cardio blast''which I detest, but I'm too proud not to participate," she laughs. Why such dedication? "If I don't exercise, I get depressed."

Jean credits yoga with helping her the most: "My doctor told me that the cervical spine is the "neural gateway to the rest of the body" and that yoga can alleviate the pain in your back and spine, helping you relax and fall asleep at night," she says. "The doctor said that with fibromyalgia, your nervous system can make you feel like your body is a car stuck in park while your foot is on the gas pedal, constantly revving the engine. I don't understand neurology, but I do understand that analogy. That's exactly how I felt before discovering yoga.'
Why it can help: Just two hours a week of yoga classes'which included poses, meditation and breathing exercises'eased fibromyalgia symptoms like pain, fatigue and depression in more than half the women who took the classes versus those who didn't participate, according to a study reviewed in the journal Pain. Along with the well-known physical benefits of yoga, the researchers believe this three-pronged approach may change the way the central nervous system responds to pain signals.

Fibromyalgia Blackout Depression Difficulty Breathing Gas Pain Stress Migraine Fatigue Exercise More TMJ Depression

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