5 Things to Do Every Day for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A lot of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome have days where we can't do anything, whether it's because we literally don't have the energy to move, or whether activity causes searing pain that breaks us down physically and mentally.

On these days, we need to limit ourselves to the basics of survival without setting ourselves up for more days like this. How's that possible?

For me, it means doing a few little things that help my body function. I've identified five things to do every day—no matter how good or bad you – feel if you're living with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

The first three are things we should all do, every day, no matter what. Some people, especially those with severe post-exertional malaise, will have to gauge whether they can handle the last two without making themselves feel worse.


Take Your Meds and Supplements

Collection of colorful pills

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Many of the medications we're prescribed have to be maintained at certain levels to be effective. If you take them erratically, you're not going to get the full benefit. During a flare is the absolute worst time to make your meds less effective.

Whether you keep them by your bed or have someone else bring them to you, make sure you're not skipping the things that can help you most on your worst days.


Eat Something Healthy

Heart Healthy Grilled Salmon and Spinach Meal
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Cooking might be a bad word even on a good day. On your worst? Forget it! Some days, it may seem like too much just to lift the food to your mouth.

If you can have someone bring you healthy food that's easy to eat, that's a great way to go. If you're often alone on those days, it can help to keep nutrient-packed drinks like Ensure on hand. At least you're putting things in your body that fuel important processes.

Of course, most of us can't eat a perfect diet every day—it takes far too much work. By keeping healthy foods available as much as you can, you give yourself a better chance of at least eating something that's good for you every day.

It's a good idea to stay prepared for symptom flares and to spend some time, on your better days, thinking of how you can overcome the challenges of eating healthy.


Get Rest

man relaxing on the sofa

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This is by far the most important thing. On active days, your body probably tells you when it's had enough. On down days, you might think all you're doing is resting.

However, things like watching TV, reading, and scrolling through Facebook take effort, too. Make sure you take time to turn off the electronics, close your eyes, and really rest. If you end up asleep, that's even better.

You might increase the value of your resting time by listening to soothing music, which research shows can have a real benefit for us.​

Mindfulness or meditation may be ways to maximize the benefit of resting time as well.



Woman sitting on a yoga mat and stretching

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Our bodies weren't meant to be sedentary, yet our illness(es) make movement the enemy. To keep your body from tensing up and making you feel worse, one or two simple yoga poses, done while lying in bed, can help immensely. Heck, even a good yawning stretch can help! We actually have a fair amount of research showing yoga is good for us.

The poses below don't take much more effort than sitting up or rolling over. It's best to start these when you're having a better day, so it's easy to do the one or two that seem like they'll do you the most good on a bad day.

Some basic poses to get you started.

As always, follow the exercise guidelines: start slowly and do the bare minimum for a while, then increase your time slowly and carefully as you're able. Don't try to look like the model in the pictures—just do your best and simplify the poses so that they work for your current fitness/flexibility level.



Close up of a man's laughing face

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The old cliché has some truth to it: laughter is good medicine, and it's been demonstrated in at least one study as beneficial for these conditions. (Again, those with post-exertional malaise need to be aware of the energy that it can take and gauge this one for themselves.)

Your worst days probably aren't the time to re-watch the funniest movie you've ever seen. You don't want to overdo it! It might be better to find a webcomic that usually amuses you or watch something that gives you a chuckle here and there. You're just looking for a little boost, not a gut-clenching laugh riot.

Not only does laughter pick up your mood, but it also changes your brain chemistry. In fact, it actually has effects that are similar to exercise, only with less exertion.


Taking Baby Steps

Baby feet walking on dock

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Remember, these are things to do every day to give you the best possible chance of making improvements. They're part of the self-care that can make the difference between getting better and staying the same.

When it comes to things you should not do, and we all have some bad habits.

Every time you adopt a good habit or change a bad habit, you're taking a step forward in your illness management. Some steps are little while others are bigger, but each one is important as you work toward your goal of feeling better.

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