Coping - what I have learned

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Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 316
   Posted 10/9/2008 5:31 AM (GMT -7)   

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to share some things I've learned over the last year about coping with FMS. I hope that you will all share what you have learned as well.

I crossed a major hurdle in learning to cope with Fibromyalgia once I discovered that the act of focusing on something besides my pain was the best therapy for my pain. I am not saying that it takes the pain away. But, shifting my focus from the pain / disorder to something else has become my most valuable coping mechanism.

I have grouped what I focus on into three categories:

1) Solutions - this could either be solutions to find comfort for a symptom or things to make our lives easier (I stopped wasting time trying to find a cure). An example of this is that I realized that cooking the old fashioned way was creating a ton of dishes and standing in the kitchen for long periods of time was causing discomfort. So, we made a standing rule in our home that all meals must be cooked in ONE pot - either a skillet, pot, or crock pot & required almost no chopping. This gave me a new project - I set out to collect recipes that fit this criteria. I poured over websites to finid recipes (betty crocker's website is great), put together a binder of ones that looked good, tried out the recipes on my family, etc. I was now focused on a solution rather than the problem. The act of focusing helped push my pain into the background.

2) Comfort - I love hot showers. They help my aching muscles feel soooo much better. Rather than focusing on how much my muscles ache, I focus on how good that shower feels. I thank Mother Nature for providing water and scientists for developing hot water heaters and showers. If I'm achy at work, I make myself a hot cup of Vanilla Chai tea and focus on how warming it is inside my aching body rather than on my achy body itself.

3) Something unrelated- For a while, I became quite interested in Myers-Briggs personality types (mine is INFJ). I researched and read about it every chance I could get. After a while, my interest shifted to Robert F. Kennedy and his life (JFK's younger brother). I found audio books, regular books and videos at the library to feed my curiosity. Lately, I have been reading about the Great Depression and what caused it. In all of these cases, I found something that I could become engrossed in. If I am completely fascinated and focused on something like this - at that moment - I am not focused on my pain. I may still be in pain, but it is not taking center stage.

What have you found that has helped you cope?




"Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live."
Robert F. Kennedy 


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Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 1713
   Posted 10/9/2008 5:42 AM (GMT -7)   
My granddaughter helps me with my pain. Just being here everyday takes my mind off my pain, because I have to meet her needs. I can't be in too much pain with her here. And she is so sensitive to my needs as well.

We play hide and seek and I hide by covering up with a blanket on my recliner. One of the ways she tries to "find" me is by tickling my feet under the blanket. Well some days my feet are killing me so tickling them hurts. Kelly always asks me first, "Grandma, do your feet hurt today?" And then she acts accordingly.

I love that little girl!! We play different things all day. She plays a lot on my lap and we play board games too. We have so much fun, she and I and it certainly takes my mind off my pain.

Thanks for letting me share.

Gentle Hugs.

Moderator Chronic Pain
Believe in yourself.  Be kind to fellow humans and animals.  Take time to smell the flowers and the coffee.
And by all means, when you are down, ask me for help.  I will be there.

getting by
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 41840
   Posted 10/9/2008 5:55 AM (GMT -7)   
This is a wonderful thread, I am so happy that we are finding ways to cope with fibromyalgia.

I find walking helps me, also getting on the forum, if Idon't start thinking about the pain in the meantime. But I love to walk, and I love to take my dogs out. Right now the colors are so beautiful and when I focus on that, it takes my mind off the pain.

I do think that distraction is the best way to cope. It keeps our minds busy and seems to make the pain fade away into the background. Though I am never pain free, at least it can be managed.

Again, this is a good thread, I am sure that you will get a lot of responses.

Hugs, Karen
  Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia
fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression,allergies

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 6067
   Posted 10/9/2008 7:17 AM (GMT -7)   
Kerri, this is a fantastic thread. Like you I love hot massage showers. Right now I'm focusing on getting things done outside before it gets too cold, meaning below 60 for me. I'm planting tulip bulbs so I will have something to look forward to in the spring. It might take me til the snow starts flying to get them done as slow as I work. tongue My main focus is on getting DH in gear to get things done I can't do. I live with the worlds biggest procrastinator. devil
I am always looking for ways to simplify life. I look at life with a different set of eyes than I did before fibro.
luv and hugs
Forum Moderator Fibromyalgia
Fibro,Sjogrens, Anxiety, Gastroparesis, IBS, Gastritis, Allergies, High Blood Pressure, Low Blood Sodium and Osteoarthritis
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Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 17501
   Posted 10/9/2008 8:26 AM (GMT -7)   
You are absolutely correct about focusing on other things.  I know that I will have pain and I use techniques to make the pain manageable.  Then, focusing on other things makes the pain fade in the background.
For me it is doing genealogy and also helping on this forum.  When I'm busy doing these things, I'm not thinking about pain.  Also, with the holidays coming up, I'll be focusing on that.  I know it is a busy time but it can be a very happy time, too.
Forum Moderator/ Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia, Crohn's Disease, Ostomy, Diabetes, Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease, Osteoporosis
God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.    2 Timothy 1:7

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 278
   Posted 10/9/2008 11:28 AM (GMT -7)   

Great thread Kerri!

I too rely on a very hot shower to loosen my muscles and get me going.

I ignore the FM as much as possible. I do not talk about it or think about it whenever possible. It frustrates my wife sometimes, but it is my best defense. :)


Fibro is a life sentence, but not a death sentence.
Fibro since 2005

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2006
Total Posts : 1156
   Posted 10/9/2008 5:39 PM (GMT -7)   
I swim for 2 hours a day every day. It is the happiest and most comfortable part of my day.

Whenever I feel isolated at the pool, I just take an aerobics class with the friends who are their.

Up until May I ran u and down the pool with a flotation belt on and took deep water aerobics classes. At the time I was terrified of the water but since I felt so go I stayed with it.

In My I decided to face my fears learn how to swim (again lol). I decided I was not letting the fear of water hold me back.

I want to swim in my 80s and 90s like the folks in the pool do. this is one distraction I plan to perform for life.

My other distractions include writing and developing strategic communication and/or management plans. In addition I read every single day.

This year I am preparing to be warm during the winter. I just bought a pair of soft North Face boots. My daughter insisted that I keep my feet warm and dry especially since I use a wheel chair.

I also purchased a stadium blanket to wrap up in when I am outside in my chair. I continue to buy soft clothing. I do not like the feel of most of the fabrics used in clothing today. They are so uncomfortable and itchy.
These are just a few of the things that keep my mind occupied. this is a very good idea.


Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 289
   Posted 10/9/2008 5:51 PM (GMT -7)   
this is a great thread.

I find coming on here helps me alot even though i am discussing it still my mind off it to find out how other people deal with it. I love showers but i have deep tub and it is hard to get in and out even sitting on the edge...

i find curling up in my favorite sweat pants and sweat shirt and watching my favorite movies help.. also having a moist heat source helps as well.

i find setting goals for each days helps too........ i am getting ready to go away for thanksgiving ( canada here) so each day this week i have set a goal.. monday was putting laundry away tuesday was finding warm clothes to take, wednesday was getting all my stuff in one area, tomorrow is packing

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Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 675
   Posted 10/9/2008 9:12 PM (GMT -7)   

Great thread, Kerri!  I also think distraction is a key element.  Along with moist heat and warm showers.  I break tasks down into doable portions - so planning ahead is part of taking my mind off the pain.  This forum is great for feeling connected, which helps.  My big thing right now is trying to simplify life in all contexts, and figuring out how to stay warm this winter - indoors and out - since I seem to just get more cold sensitive every year.  I try to go for a walk at least once a day - which often doesn't sound like such a good idea, but 90 percent of the time I feel better afterward.  I drink lots of water to stay hydrated, and I am happiest when I have a project of some kind in the works....knitting, card making, artwork, rug hooking, painting, organizing pictures....all great distractions.  Oh, and I try to anticipate what is coming up and try to keep from loading too much on any one day.


diagnoses:  mono 1972; postviral CFS 1997; fibro 1998; CEBV 2005; UCTD (dx limbo) 2007
meds:  occasional low dose xanax for sleep, artificial tears w/ ointment at night, ibuprophin (none of which manages the problems very well!)
We cannot avoid the birds of sadness flying over our heads, but we need not let them make nests in our hair. 
       ~~ Chinese saying as quoted by Helen Nearing

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 316
   Posted 10/10/2008 12:05 PM (GMT -7)   

I am happy that so many of you enjoyed this topic. It was wonderful to read all of your responses and how you cope and enjoy life with Fibro.

Linda, your post about your grandchild touched my heart. What a little sweetie she is! I must say, my own children are such wonderful therapy for me too. It's hard to focus on pain when snuggling with a child!



"Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live."
Robert F. Kennedy 


Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 326
   Posted 10/10/2008 4:43 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi all...I know. I've been kinda absent the last couple of weeks. I'm glad to be back and have some time to sit down to write.

Usually, I'm not the type to do a lot of makeup or spend a lot of time with my hair. When I'm feeling really run down I will go into the bathroom and spend the time to put in my contacts - instead of just throwing my glasses on - do a little something with my hair, and then do full makeup. Makeup isn't something that's terribly strenuous, but it is something that keeps my mind occupied with what colors to work with and shading etc. Once I'm done then I go out to do something casual/relaxing - going out to coffee with a friend or just even simple grocery shopping.

Because I don't wear makeup on a regular basis people are always sort of surprised when I do it. Not only does it make me feel better because I think I look better - but it's also an easy way to fish for other people to stroke my self esteem. blush I hear things about how good I look in makeup, or that it's a nice improvement. The compliments feed the self esteem and when I'm happier about myself I'm also less focused on what's not right.

For the physical aspect it's usually going out for a walk to see the parts of my neighborhood that I don't see on my drive to/from work or errands. The heating pad is frequently my best friend. My cats lay with me (and on me) and they serve as little furry heated blankets as well. Or just curling up in my "more than big enough" velvety robe while I watch something comedic. Whether it's stand-up or just a good comedy movie, I can get laugh from it then I'm not thinking about what's hurting. cool

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 130
   Posted 10/10/2008 8:57 PM (GMT -7)   
Great Post~  I think for me along with keeping up with two girls 11 and 13 years old, it's work.  I am slowly finding out that work is so good for me.  I'm finding what makes me feel good during work... such as the right meds, the right amount of sleep and not working too many hours.  I have told my co-workers about my fibro and come to find out it wasn't earth shattering.  I am able to make fun of myself and let people know they can make fun of me as well.
I'm a receptionist and I adore people.  I work for a doctor that takes care of 80% of people over 60.    We see a lot of people with terrible conditions.  People in wheelchairs, people who lost a toe or foot and some who are so bad off you wonder how they smile and yet they do and they are greatful and kind and extremely positive.  They have smiles on their faces and happiness that shows.  We make each other feel good by laughing or sharing stories.  I work for a Doctor that cares and I'm proud to work for him and with his staff.  My pain and discomfort totally takes a backseat when I'm at work.  I stay on top of my pain killer and do my best to ignor it.  
With the economy and people truely suffering, I'm greatful to have a job in the medical field.  I feel safe.  Sometimes I really feel sorry for myself and being at work I feel ashamed when I could be so much worse.
Your post may help people see the good in life instead of concentrating on all the negative we go through.
Thank you and good night!
Fibromyalgia (DX'd Dec 07) ~ Generlized Anxiety ~ Migraines ~ IBS ~ Asthma ~ Allergies
Cymbalta   Topamax   Claritin   Tylenol   Ibuprophen

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 316
   Posted 10/14/2008 5:37 AM (GMT -7)   

I really enjoyed reading all of the responses to this post. It is nice to hear about the enjoyment and pleasure we find in life, in spite of our difficulties. Thank you so much for sharing.

I would love to type more, but I'm very dizzy and foggy - so I will stop now. :)



"Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live."
Robert F. Kennedy 


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