10 ways to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia

Written by: Dr Sue Peacock
Published: | Updated: 12/04/2023
Edited by: Laura Burgess

Living with chronic, persistent pain, fatigue and brain fog is always a challenge for people with fibromyalgia. The good news is that you don’t have to put your life on hold whilst waiting for a flare-up to pass. Yes, it often means making adjustments to many aspects of your life but if you do, you can still achieve things and have fun, just perhaps in a different way to what you originally thought.

By taking charge of fibromyalgia symptoms, you can feel a sense of control over your life and your self-esteem and confidence can improve, enabling a better quality of life. Leading psychologist Dr Sue Peacock works with many people who suffer from fibromyalgia. Here, Dr Peacock has collated a list of tried and tested methods from her patients, who have used them to manage their condition.

1. Use the 4 Ps
Pacing yourself, problem-solving, prioritising and planning. Include rest breaks in your daily planning, as adequate rest and sleep are important.

2. Talk to family and friends
Let those you are close to know about your condition and how it makes you feel physically and emotionally. Ask for help if you need it. Be prepared to say ‘no’ sometimes if you feel that doing something would be too much for you.

3. Move your body
Gentle exercise such as walking, if even only a short distance or exercising in a warm pool, can help reduce pain and stiffness.

4. Make notes
Get into the habit of writing things down to avoid the frustration of ‘fibro fog’ (brain fog).

5. Journal
Keep a journal to record your progress and equally notice triggers that may increase your pain and/or fatigue. This will provide useful information that you can use to manage your condition.

6. Keep pain relievers nearby
It’s recommended to keep a selection of things that can ease the pain to hand, especially on bad days. These may include hot water bottles, wheat packs, relaxation and self-hypnosis downloads, cushions, pillows and a TENS machine (a small battery-operated device that stimulates the nerves for therapeutic responses).

7. Take a bath
A long soak in a warm bath or hot tub can help relax tense muscles.

8. Allocate “me” time
Make time for yourself where you can spend 30 minutes or so just doing something you enjoy without feeling guilty – remember, it’s part of your self-management plan!

9. Reduce coffee intake
Perhaps try drinking decaf coffee or herbal teas sometimes, as caffeine can increase anxiety and insomnia. It’s good to have an awareness of your coffee intake, some soft drinks and chocolate.

10. Practice relaxation and self-hypnosis
If you practice regularly it will be more beneficial when you are in the midst of a flare-up.

Remember that long-term health conditions like fibromyalgia vary from day to day, so if today isn’t a good day, try not to feel too negative and implement some of the above techniques. There are also useful resources available on Dr Peacock’s website such as the ‘three-step targeted relaxation technique’ or ‘fighting fatigue master plan.’ Tomorrow might be a more energetic, less painful and a less-fatigued fibromyalgia day.


You can read more information about fibromyalgia here

By Dr Sue Peacock

Dr Sue Peacock is a consultant health psychologist based in Bedford and Milton Keynes, who focuses on improving people’s ability to manage their chronic pain and adjust to the different circumstances and challenges faced every day. Dr Peacock’s ultimate aim is that her patients lead fulfilling lives despite having health conditions.

Dr Peacock has a PhD in psychology, is registered as an advanced hypnotherapy practitioner, an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner and has diplomas in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and life coaching.

She uses a variety of psychological principles and theories in her clinical practice, drawn from her broad knowledge base of various different therapeutic techniques and approaches. Dr Peacock tailors an approach to each individual patient and considers how life experiences affect each person, taking into consideration how a person views themselves, how they think, feel, behave towards others and live within their relationships and everyday life. She uses this to highlight the best way forward for that person and breaks the cycles of unhappiness or distress that a patient feels trapped in. Dr Peacock has also published four books relating to how patients can empower themselves to manage their chronic pain and other long term health conditions. 

HCPC: Ps/L 18083

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