Managing Fibromyalgia’s Effects on the Brain
Doctors often focus more on the physical symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as pain, fatigue and stiffness. However, many people with the condition also have trouble focusing, concentrating, or thinking quickly in everyday situations. In a recent study, women with fibromyalgia ranked so-called ‘fibro fog’ among their five top complaints. Openly discussing these symptoms and how they affect you can help you and your doctor address them. Here are other ways to reduce the impact of fibro fog on your daily life.
- 1. Track your symptoms.
Take note of any thinking or learning problems you have. You may want to write down when you experience them—and how severe they are—on a chart or calendar. Share this with your doctor. Together, you may be able to pinpoint what makes your fibro fog better or worse and develop strategies to minimize it.
- 2. Follow your treatment plan.
In addition to easing pain, therapy for fibromyalgia often helps with brain-related symptoms, including depression. Your doctor may write you prescriptions for pain medications or antidepressants. When you have less pain to deal with, you can focus more on living your life and doing things you enjoy. Alternative and mind-body therapies, such as massage and tai chi, also show promise.
- 3. Sleep as well as you can.
Trouble sleeping counts as a primary symptom of fibromyalgia. But the more restful your slumber, the clearer your thinking. Most adults need seven hours of restorative sleep to perform their best. Take steps to reach this goal by keeping a regular sleep schedule. Avoid alcohol and caffeine late in the afternoon and at night. Try to go to bed and get up at around the same time every day. And avoid daytime naps, especially in the afternoon. If you must take them, limit them to one hour.
- 4. Exercise to benefit your mind and body.
Moving your body helps ease pain and stiffness—and also may benefit your mind. After working out, you may feel sharper and more alert. Physical activity also improves sleep, if you time it right. Schedule your gym session in the morning or during the day, if possible; working out at night can keep you awake. If you do work out later in the day, aim to finish about three hours before hitting the sack. This gives your body enough time to wind down.
- 5. Avoid distractions to give your brain a boost.
Some studies suggest people with fibromyalgia perform just as well on memory tests that involve one problem at a time as do people without the condition. That means minimizing multitasking could boost your brainpower. Try and focus on completing one task at a time. Along with tracking your symptoms, make a ‘to do’ list and update it every day or so to help stay on track. Each time you complete a task, cross it off the list and congratulate yourself. Take it one step at a time.
- 6. Make changes at work.
Many people with fibromyalgia can continue to work. But there may be times when you struggle with balancing work when you have chronic pain. You might find that working fewer hours or having flexible hours helps you better handle the demands of your job. Or you might need to switch your role to one that plays more to your strengths than your weaknesses.
Fibro Women Blogs
Chronic Woman Blogs
Chronic Illness Blogs
Official Fibromyalgia Blogs