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Tips For Sticking to a Schedule When You Have Fibromyalgia

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Sticking to a schedule when you have fibromyalgia and chronic pain can be difficult, if not impossible. However, I have also found that it is really important to maintaining my health as much as I can. I want to share with you what my schedule looks like and then give you some tips for setting your own schedule and sticking to it.

My Schedule

I am a graduate student in an online program and I do some freelance writing and communications projects on the side. Because of this my days are pretty flexible. I don’t have to wake up at a certain time, I can schedule meetings for later in the day, and I can stay up until all hours of the night. But living in this very unstructured way was keeping me from being as productive as I could be and that in turn was causing more frequent depressive episodes and higher pain levels. So, I decided to make myself a schedule.

I wake up at 8:30 in the morning. The first thing I do is read my Bible and write down three things I am thankful for from the previous day. Starting my day on a positive note has been wonderful and I can do these things from bed, so it gives my stiff joints and aching muscles time to wake up as well. Then I start my work day from bed too. I check social media and schedule my own social media posts for the day. Doing all that takes about an hour, so at 9:30 it’s finally time to get out of bed. I roll out my yoga mat and do a gentle 20 minute routine. This really helps to loosen my muscles so that they are ready to sit for a few hours during the rest of the day.

At 10 a.m. I make my morning coffee, get dressed and do my hair and makeup. I only leave the house two or three days a week, but getting ready everyday actually helps me feel better somehow (I’m sure my husband also appreciates the effort.) From 10:30 to noon I focus on school work, reading, writing, and researching for my graduate degree. If I am in more pain than usual I can do this from my bed or couch with my tablet. At noon I fix myself something to eat and check social media again. If I need to I can also fit in a small nap here.

At 1:00 it’s time to get back to work. I will work on my freelance projects in half hour increments with 10 to 15 minute breaks in between until 5. Then I make dinner and wait for my husband to get home from work.

After dinner I have more time to rest or do something fun with my husband. At 8:30 I pull out my yoga mat and do another stretching routine. This helps me sleep better, especially if I’ve been dealing with painsomnia for a few nights. After stretching I will soak in an Epsom salt bath and get ready for bed.

Lights out happens between 10:30 and 11:00 which gives me approximately ten hours to eventually fall asleep and still get a good eight hours in.

Now, let’s look at some tips that can help you set your own schedule.

Tips for Setting a Schedule

Make it work for you. I shared my schedule just as an example. If you work part time or have children or if your life differs from mine in any way, your schedule will need to accommodate that. I know that I can’t just hop out of bed first thing in the morning, so I thought of things I could do from bed and scheduled them for the first hour after I woke up. By taking inventory of your own body’s quirks as well as your responsibilities you can create a schedule that isn’t a chore to stick to.

  1. Be flexible. You may wake up one morning with a migraine or a fibro flare and have to set your schedule aside for the day. Don’t feel guilty about it. Your schedule is supposed to work for you, you’re not supposed to work for it. Include times for rest and play. Before I had a schedule I would feel guilty for stopping a task in the middle to lie down or watch a YouTube video. Now I have a schedule with time specifically set aside for short naps and breaks and it has become easier to stay focused on a task for 10 more minutes and then take a break guilt-free.
  2. Invite others to take part in your schedule. If you live with other people it will be important for them to know your schedule and understand why you have set it up the way you have. I have shared my schedule with my husband and invited him to take part in it in his own way. He doesn’t need 10 hours of sleep, but he comes to bed at the same time as me and when we turn the lights out he listens to podcasts or catches up on emails for an hour or two before he is ready to fall asleep as well.
  3. Don’t change your schedule drastically on the weekend. I have tried to stick to a schedule in the past, and it never worked because I didn’t have a schedule for the weekend too. It is really important for those with fibromyalgia to have a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible. So, I don’t do any work on the weekend, but I do keep my morning and evening routines exactly the same as they are during the week. In between I can go out to brunch with friends, or go for a walk with my husband or go to a matinee movie showing. Keeping my bed time and the time I wake up the same 7 days a week has really helped my quality of sleep.

I hope these tips have been helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have a schedule to better manage your fibromyalgia and what has worked for you.

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Thinkstock Image By: Rawpixel

Originally published: March 3, 2017
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