1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an amazing therapeutic technique that helps to change thoughts and behaviors. Beliefs, such as “My body is broken and it will never get fixed” have the ultimate potential to rewire a new belief such as, “Although my body is experiencing health challenges, I am finding ways to improve my health.” You can find a therapist who does CBT or you can download free worksheets from Therapist AID (You can even sign up to get their free weekly worksheets) and/or from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia website. I’d love to know if you tried them out! And nope, these are not affiliate links
But anyway, I love CBT! I try it on myself all the time. Tapping into our subconscious thoughts and behaviors can unlock new ways of thinking and responding to our anxiety which can reduce our fibromyalgia symptoms.
2. Patient Education
Learning more about anxiety can provide you tools of empowerment and ownership of your health. Knowledge of anxiety symptoms and triggers can help you to spot anxious thoughts and false beliefs floating in your brain.
You become active and not passive in your health challenges. Instead of solely relying on your therapist and/or psychiatrist’s knowledge and expertise, you can also refer to your own knowledge base.
This can help you collaborate with your mental health professionals as well as advocate for yourself when you are not receiving the support that you need. You deserve good, wholesome wellbeing in your life, don’t you think so? And so do some research, initiate conversations surrounding mental health, and ask those “stupid” questions (they’re not stupid, but hey others might think they are, but so what? You gotta advocate for your mental health!).
3. Mindfulness Meditation
How mindful are you?
There is an exorbitant amount of research that demonstrates mindfulness meditation helps to reduce anxiety.
Mindfulness Meditation is a way to be actively aware of something–anything. Your feet, your glass of water, you name it–one of my favorites is mindful eating.
You can practice Mindfulness Meditation ANYWHERE. Standing in line for food, walking to the store, waiting for the train, etc. It’s a great way to take a break from your addictive phone!
4. Keep A Trigger Log
Awareness is a superpower that you can cultivate when dealing with anxiety as a fibromyalgia warrior.
Yes, awareness IS a superpower.
When you cultivate awareness in your lifestyle, you have a greater capacity to notice and pay attention to your thoughts and emotions. A greater sense of awareness gives you more clarity when you are navigating through your false belief system, negative thinking processes, and other cognitive dissonance that amplifies anxiety in your brain.
Keeping a trigger log is a great way to increase awareness of people, places, and things that may trigger anxiety in you. A trigger log can also help you to be more knowledgeable about the role of anxiety as you manage fibromyalgia in your life. Does anxiety show up more when you didn’t complete your To-Do list, when you’re paying your bills, when you’re going to bed, etc?
Identifying your triggers can help you to be more specific about your anxiety and recognize if it’s directly related to fibromyalgia or something else that needs to be addressed. The more specific you are, the more power and control you have over anxiety. So try it for a couple of days and you might notice a pattern with your anxious thoughts!
If you’re not into the Trigger Log, journaling is also a great idea. I’ve been journaling since I was 7 or 8 years old. I love it. It gets the heavy stuff off of my chest. And it’s basically free-writing. Free-write your day. Morning or evening is typically the time I journal. Find out what works for you. You can write about the feelings and thoughts that you had throughout the day and the people, places, and things that bugged you. It’s a simple outlet with such a significant impact on the mental health community.
6. Creative Arts Therapy
Do you like craft-making, knitting, art, cooking, poetry, etc?
The creative arts are an amazing outlet for improving mental health.
Creative arts therapy creates a space of self-expression, calmness, and insight into your challenges. The greatest thing is that you don’t need to be an artist or a musician to participate in creative arts therapy!
On a side note, I was involved in improv a few years ago to reduce my social anxiety and it was a phenomenal experience. My social anxiety did not only reduce exponentially, but I got to have a better sense of humor for my social blunders (and I continue to do so)!
7. Yoga or Light Exercise
Yup. I went there. I know your body’s tired and in pain (because mine is!), but when you don’t commit to a regular schedule of physical movement, then your body gets more tired and achy.
Try yoga, light exercise, or something to keep your body moving. A little bit is key. Remember that.
Let me repeat myself:
A little bit is key.
Progress, not perfection. 10 minutes is better than no minutes.
Keep in Mind
If you are taking medication for anxiety as well for fibromyalgia, be mindful of drug interactions.
Let your psychiatrist know what you are taking for fibromyalgia.
Let your primary care doctor know what you are taking.
Be a collaborator with your doctors and work as a team.
This can help to veer off harmful side effects from drug interactions.
If you find something different that fits best with your lifestyle, circumstances, symptoms–I’d love for you to comment below.
I’m always curious about how other fibromyalgia warriors are managing anxiety!
Each of us has a story!
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