Too much to do and too little time? Sound familiar?
Considering our increasingly busy lifestyles, it’s easy to understand how we can begin to feel that time is not our friend. Feeling the pressure of time restraints can be a particular source of anxiety for those suffering with fibromyalgia. For a start, it’s difficult to plan ahead when you don’t know how your pain and energy levels will be from day to day. With this in mind, we’ve put together a few tips to help you get on top of your daily planning and, hopefully, reduce any unnecessary stress:
# Tip no 1: Plan ahead
Most of us have a set of regular tasks that we’d like to get done every week, or month, for example: cleaning the house, exercising, or doing the food shopping. Putting together a weekly task list, or schedule, can really help to eliminate the stress of decision-making each day:
- Step 1
Make a list of each of your weekly tasks and colour code them to indicate whether they are high priority or low priority;
- Step 2
At the beginning of each week, look through your task list and start off with the high priority tasks – ticking each one off as you go. This can help you to feel an uplifting sense of achievement and spur you on as you make your way through the list;
- Step 3
If you are having a particularly bad week health-wise and find that you are struggling to get through your whole list, don’t let it get you down – just add the lower priority tasks to the following week’s list. Simple!
Planning ahead and prioritising can really help to alleviate the stress of feeling that there is so much to do that you don’t know where to start.
# Tip no 2: Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When you have made your list of weekly/monthly tasks, think about ways that you may be able to simplify each one. For example:
- Weekly shop: If you are too tired to make it to the shops, can you do your shopping online?
Or: Do you have a good friend you could ask to drive you to the shops and help you with your bags?
- Exercise: Whilst it’s great to get into the routine of signing up for a weekly exercise class, the unpredictability of fibromyalgia means that this might not be something that you feel you can commit to. Instead, consider making time each week for an achievable way to get some exercise. For example:
- Try going for a short walk first thing in the morning to clear your mind for the day ahead;
- Do a google search for fibromyalgia exercise, so you can keep fit at home, in your own time.
# Tip no 3: Learn to say no
Agreeing to do things out of a sense of duty, or guilt, rather than because we actually want to do them can create a sense of both stress and resentment. Try to prioritise activities that you most want to be involved in, and don’t be afraid to turn down those that don’t easily fit into your schedule. Learning to say no to people is an important skill when it comes to stress management, and there are some great tips on how to go about it here.
# Tip no 4: Set yourself rules and time limits
Creating routine can help you to feel in control of your life which, in turn, can alleviate stress:
- Break up your daily tasks into manageable chunks and remember to schedule in lots of breaks;
- Create certain personal rules that will help you to keep on top of your time management, and ensure you get adequate rest. For example:
- If you have been on the computer for 20 minutes, take a 10 minute break;
- If it is 11am, take a morning tea break;
- Set a regular time to try and take any medication you may need (after breakfast, or before bed are popular times);
- Set a time that you would like to get to bed by each day and stick to it as best you can.
Still not feeling confident when it comes to time management? There are some great techniques out there that can really help you to get on top of your schedule. Our favourite involves a simple kitchen timer!
# Tip no 5: Try the pomodoro technique!
Named after the tomato shaped kitchen timer, the “Pomodoro technique” is a method of time-management that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The four basic principles of the technique are as follow:
- Work with time – not against it
- Eliminate burnout
- Manage distractions
How can the pomodoro technique work for you?
The pomodoro technique: “uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as “pomodori”, the plural of the Italian word pomodoro for “tomato“. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.”
Sue Ingebretson, Director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, describes how she often gives her clients a basic kitchen timer, as a: “simple tool to empower them for success.” You can read about her: “10 Timer Tips using your basic kitchen timer to solve life’s everyday challenges” by clicking the link here.
Here’s one of Sue’s examples:
“Give Yourself a Posture Reset
For those dealing with any chronic pain condition or health challenge, it’s absolutely essential to keep the body moving. Sitting still (immobilization) for long periods of time contributes to increased pain and symptoms…
To Do: Set the timer for 45 minutes or less. When the bell goes off, get up, shrug your shoulders, and/ or do any of the following –
Walk around, stretch, bounce a little on your rebounder, go outside and take a deep breath, drink a glass of water, etc. You get the gist. When you get back to work or to whatever you were doing, don’t forget to re-set the timer for another 45 minutes!”
Do let us know if you have any time-manag
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