August 3


10 Ways Stress Makes Fibromyalgia Symptoms Worse

By Sue Ingebretson

August 3, 2021

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There’s no question that stress worsens the symptoms of fibromyalgia, arthritis, ME/CFS, autoimmune disease, and chronic illness in general. But in what ways in particular?


Today’s post takes a quick look at areas of stress that you may not have considered. How do you fare?


How Stress Affects the Fibromyalgia Body


Of course, it’s easy to see (and experience!) the impact of stress. We know that our body can feel nervous, nauseous, and achy under stress. But what does that mean?


It’s important to understand that the results of stress are systemic – meaning that stress effects every system of the body. Stress has an impact on the –


  • Digestive system
  • Respiratory system
  • Circulatory system
  • Muscular system
  • Reproductive system
  • Endocrine system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Urinary system
  • Lymphatic system
  • Nervous system


If you’d like to learn more about the systemic nature of fibromyalgia (including 77 symptoms!) check out this article that I wrote for .


Now that we know stress can cause/trigger symptoms throughout the body, let’s get into the root of this post.


The 10 Ways Stress Makes Fibromyalgia Symptoms Worse

Here they are – 10 ways that stress makes fibromyalgia symptoms worse: 


  1. Stress makes relationship issues more complicated, more antagonistic, and more reactive.
  2. Stress changes how and what we eat — we may overeat in general, zone out when we eat, eat unhealthy foods, etc. resulting in more digestive issues and more overall symptoms (pain, fatigue, insomnia, etc.).
  3. Stress makes us over-wired — we can’t sleep and/or can’t stay asleep. 
  4. Stress makes us less likely to apply self-care – we don’t feel like exercising, meditating, taking a deep breath, keeping  up our gratitude practice, etc. 
  5. Stress amplifies the struggles we wrestle with most – work, health, family, finances, etc.
  6. Stress tightens the body in general which constricts blood flow and digestion. These add to muscle pain and aches, etc.
  7. Stress creates tension which can trigger more headaches, migraines, and general head/neck pain, etc. 
  8. Stress creates cognitive dysfunction which can contribute to poor impulse control — shopping, gambling, eating, having a short-fuse, rash judgements or irrational behavior, etc.  
  9. Stress prevents or at minimum inhibits the ability to see long-term thoughts and solutions — planning, goal-setting, etc.  And, and it SLOWS our progress. Things take longer because we feel impatient and can’t see the forest for the trees.
  10. Stress clouds truth from fiction — it completely hijacks our moods and potential for positivity. Everything “bad” is apt to feel amplified, everything “good” feels unreachable, fleeting, or unreal.


So, are any (or all?) of these relatable to you? How do you rate when compared to this list? I’d love to see your comments below. 


Help for Fibromyalgia Stress


After feeling stressed out from reading the list above, how about a few resources to help? I’ve listed below some posts, articles, and books.


And I’d like to point out that one of my books – an activity book entitled, Chronic Coloring – is specifically written to help reduce stress, improve mood, induce relaxation, improve cognitive focus, enjoy creative expression, encourage and inspire positivity, and more!


Check out these articles on stress:


Help with Stress 


Stress Reset 


Seasonal Stress Strategies 


Check out these books on Amazon which each discuss stress in detail:


Get Back into Whack 


Get Back into Whack Workbook 




Chronic Coloring 


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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" 
~ Sue Ingebretson