For a patient afflicted with fibromyalgia, it’s too easy to focus more on the physical aspect of the disease more than the mental part of it. Nonetheless, fibromyalgia is very much as mental as it is physical.
Yes, you feel chronic pain throughout your body and that’s bad, but you also feel fatigued and stressed out, right? That part of fibromyalgia is more mental.
This, combined with a difficulty working or taking care of things around the house, can do a lot to dampen your mood regarding your condition.
The worse your mental state regarding your fibromyalgia becomes, than only the most worse the physical aspect of it will become too.
The good news is that if you learn to control the mental part of fibromyalgia, than you’ll feel better physically too. Think of it as healing your fibromyalgia through the mind:
Healing Fibromyalgia via Mindfulness
The causes of fibromyalgia are currently unknown, but doctors and medical researchers suspect it has something to do with any one of the following: trauma (physical or emotional), a malfunction in the nervous system, an imbalance in the brains neurotransmitters, or a certain disease that can lead into fibromyalgia.
All of these sound like physical causes, and indeed they are, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be helped via the mind.
Mindfulness is simply recognizing that you are living in the present moment, and observe the thoughts and emotions you have in that present moment, but you don’t react to them.
If you feel pain, you can let it pass without judging it. The goal of mindfulness is to be calm and to think clearly. In doing so, you’ll avoid a temporary loss of clear cognitive thinking and thus avoid stress.
Avoiding stress alone will play a crucial role to having a more positive outlook on your condition, which in turn will lead to less pain you feel.
Studies have shown that mindfulness does have a positive effect on treating fibromyalgia. For example, one study put patients in a two month long program aiming at managing their stress and pain through mindfulness.
For the eight weeks of the two months, the patients spent two and a half hours each week practicing mindfulness practices and exercises, such as yoga, relaxating, and stretching.
All of these patients were sufferers of fibromyalgia, but by the end of the study, they all reported feeling less pain since they could now handle their stress, anxiety and in the most severe patients, even depressing better.
Years after that study was conducted, the same patients reported continuous improvement in their overall well being.
This is only one of many different tests that have been run on subjects and patients regarding the correlation between more mindfulness and less pain and stress from fibromyalgia, but the point remains the same.
Scientific and medical theories to suggest why mindfulness helps fibromyalgia symptoms, is because mindfulness can reduce the nervous system. This automatically reduces stress since the nervous system sends pain signals to the body.
Additional theories for why mindfulness can help control fibromyalgia is because it mentally helps patients to look away from the pain they feel, by inhibiting the central nervous’ system ability to feel pain; by eliminating poor thoughts and feelings that come with pain; by relaxing the muscles, which naturally reduces tension; creating a bugger against symptoms of stress; and increasing awareness of the body.
Think what you want about yoga, but it’s one of the main forms of mindfulness in practice across the globe today.
If mindfulness is a major contributor to lowering fibromyalgia stress symptoms, then yoga would obviously be a viable treatment method for fibromyalgia.
Yoga is a physical, mental, and sometimes considered spiritual, discipline with the goal of transforming the body and the mind. Yoga is believed to have originated in many Indian traditions during the 6th to 5th centuries B.C.
The earliest recorded accounts of Yoga are in the Buddhist writings shortly after that time. Yoga has developed since then, and while some may consider it to be a ‘crazy’ form of Buddhist meditation, it is today the most commonly used form of mindfulness.
Yoga can help deal with fibromyalgia pain physically since it requires patients to make a series of physical moves aimed at increasing strength and flexibility, while also maintaining relaxed, controlled breathing and keeping the mind focused at the present moment.
A similar study to the one on mindfulness was also done on fibromyalgia, also taken over the course of two months, and found that all of the fibromyalgia patient participants experienced far less fatigue and depression, moderately less physical pain, more energy, and an increased ability to sleep well at night following the program.
All in all, mindfulness is one of the most overlooked but also one of the most effective ways to cope with fibromyalgia. Other studies besides the ones we have discussed yielded similar results.
The common denominator to all of the studies is that patients witnessed a substantial increase in their physical and emotional well being after a period of roughly two months/eight weeks.
Mindfulness and meditation works beyond helping fibromyalgia. It can lead to less physical pain, morning stiffness, anxiety, stress and depression that occurs outside of fibromyalgia as well.
As a result, people who use mindfulness training programs will find it much easier to complete tasks around the house and encounter more productivity at work as well.
In other words, it’s not just the physical and emotional sides to a disease or chronic condition that is helped via mindfulness. An entire person’s life can be helped via mindfulness.
Mindfulness is simply a combination of meditation, some physical exercise, and occasionally yoga (depending on the program). It targets the physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects of the patient and helps all three. All it takes is dedication to practicing mindfulness daily to witness the positive results yourself.