Thursday, 3 September 2015

Stress, Social Support and Fibromyalgia symptoms

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, it is entirely possible to manage the symptoms through exercise, improved sleep, stress reduction, and social support.  
A healthy level of activity is known to help reduce the painful symptoms and to improve mood. Exercise releases “feel good” hormones –endorphins- which is why everyone should exercise (within their limits, of course)! 

As fibromyalgia is known to disturb sleep patterns, developing healthy sleep routine is essential. This involves reducing caffeine, developing a healthy bedtime ritual, and seeing a sleep professional if required.
Several current theories and studies state that stress triggers fibromyalgia symptoms.  Stress reduction is recognized as one of the main areas where intervention may be effective in lessening fibromyalgia symptoms.   This is not surprising given that we know that chronic stress triggers immune responses, lowers pain thresholds, impairs sleep and leads to other negative health impacts.


Stress is a natural part of everyday living, but it needs to be at a manageable level.  The challenge is how to decrease the stress to a manageable level for the patient. There are several ways to tackle stress, and as a hypnotherapist, my approach is to help people evaluate the stress in their lives to determine its source; does it originate from work, social networks or home life? 

Stress Reduction

Once the major stressors are identified, a fibromyalgia patient can work on stress reduction techniques. I teach techniques that include mindfulness training, assertive communication skills, increased awareness to recognize when one is becoming stressed, removing distracting stimulus (e.g. a loud television, radio, etc.), engaging in hobbies, taking time for oneself and, “just walking away” from a stressful event.  
Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia feel guilty about not being able to care for their family or being restricted in participating in various activities. Many people also report experiencing shame or judgment by others.  These feelings which may intensify an individual's stress level can be dealt with in a hypnosis session.  When the stress level is decreased, many patients report an improvement in sleep patterns and possibly in mood and a reduction in pain symptoms.

Social Support  

For fibromyalgia patients, finding the right social supports to help them through the tough times and to celebrate the good times is imperative.  Having someone who understands their reality can help alleviate the uncertainty and reduce stress.  In Ottawa, we are lucky to have services, such as the Ottawa Fibromyalgia Support Group and the Fibromyalgia Support – Ottawa West.  

If you want to understand more about your fibromyalgia you can book a  complementary no-obligation assessment with one of our experienced health coaches who can answer your questions. Call 613 230-0998, book online, or email today!

About the author

Derrick Barnes, RSW Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, uses the latest techniques and evidence-based research to help you focus on reaching your goals. His approach combines coaching techniques, solution-focused brief hypnotherapy, and mindfulness. Even though Derrick focuses on future successes and not past challenges, he will, upon request, offer various other services such as past life regression or energy work.

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