November 10


STOP That Holiday Fibro Flare Now!

By Sue Ingebretson

November 10, 2015

arthritis, CFS, Christmas, chronic illness, fatigue, fibromyalgia, Fitness, flares, Holiday, migraines, Motivation, pain, plan, ProHealth, routines, self-care, Stress, symptoms, wellness

STOP That Holiday Fibro Flare Now!Have you ever wondered if a flare can be prevented before it even begins? Things get so bonkers this time of year for all of us. But, if fibromyalgia, arthritis, CFS, migraines, or any chronic illness is part of your daily experience, then go ahead and jump to this conclusion. Here’s your opportunity to plan for the months ahead and STOP that flare NOW!  

The clock is ticking down the minutes to the holidays. Are you feeling squeezed between social obligations, work-related extra activities, and family events? You’re not alone.

It’s impossible to do it all, but when we’re pinched for time, what’s the first thing to get booted?


Scheduling time for a massage, committing to your regular yoga or tai chi classes, eating well, or getting the rest you need takes a back seat to the added pressures and expectations of the season. But if preventing a fibro flare is the goal – and I’m sure that’s your desire – then making self-care an absolute priority is critical.
Do you make time to get in your daily walk? What about getting to the gym, or pulling out your yoga mat and putting in that yoga stretch DVD? Finding time for fitness seems to be even more difficult when the weather doesn’t cooperate. At this time of year, we’re often over-tired which affects our food choices. In a chain reaction, our over-indulgences cause us to feel listless and less likely to keep up with our fitness goals.

This is a recipe for disaster (a.k.a. a fibro flare)!

It’s so important to take the time to care for yourself – especially when you don’t feel you have the time to do it. In fact, that’s exactly how to prevent the type of fibro flare that happens when we’re overwhelmed. Self-care should come first, then everything else follows.

But isn’t that putting the sleigh before the reindeer?

I know how busy things are right now. There simply isn’t enough time. I’d wager that in the past, you’ve hedged your bets that you’d skip all of your wellness activities and cross your fingers to get through the holidays without a flare. 

Yes, that’s one method. You can choose to spin the fibro flare roulette wheel. But crossing your fingers isn’t a very effective method of prevention (I know because I’ve tried).  

So here’s a nitty gritty question: Would you rather take the time to care for yourself before a flare when it’s your choice, or after a flare, when you have no choice?

Maintaining your fitness routines is the perfect way to get through the weeks and months ahead.

10 Benefits from Fitness Routines

If you’re not aware, here are ten powerful benefits you can experience from your winter fitness routine that makes it well worth the simple effort:

  • Improved and boosted immune system (fewer winter sniffles)
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved mood and subsequent feelings of happiness
  • Reduced pain levels
  • Reduced feelings of stress and anxiety
  • Improved range of motion for stiff joints and tight muscles
  • Improved cognitive function (an effective way to lift fibro fog)
  • Improved metabolism and nutrient absorption
  • Improved sleep (fall asleep faster, and stay asleep all night long)
  • Improved cardiovascular health 

I’m a multi-tasker. I like my fitness routines to do double duty, so I sometimes combine a fitness activity with a fun activity to maximize my time and efforts. The following examples demonstrate a few ways that this can be achieved at this special time of year.

Although I rarely step foot into a shopping mall, I do make an effort to go during the holidays to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season. Here are a few ways that you can — deck the halls and walk the malls!

  1. First, try something different. Rather than sharking the lot for the absolute closest spot, intentionally look for a spot further away. Even just a few extra parking spaces can add some healthful steps to your day. Want to get a “feel good” boost, too? At this busy time of year, consider driving past the first open parking space you see, and letting the car behind you nab it. This anonymous gesture of goodwill benefits you in more ways than one.


  1. Lace up your tennies, grab a buddy, and take a walk through your indoor mall. Plan a route where you can walk briskly while enjoying great conversation, beautiful decorations, and the festive surroundings. This isn’t a shopping trip – no credit card required. In fact, here’s a helpful tip – plan ahead and don’t carry a heavy purse or anything that puts strain or weight on your neck and shoulders.


  1. Walkup  Many malls and shopping centers have large and open stairways. Maximize your fitness routines by challenging yourself to take advantage of the benefits that stairs can provide. If stairs weren’t so effective, they wouldn’t create stair-stepping machines at the gym. Here are a few tips to keep in mind. Make sure to walk near the guardrail and take rest breaks if needed (depending on the number of stairs). Also, walking UP stairs can provide amazing cardiovascular and muscle toning benefits. However, walking DOWN stairs is not recommended. Whenever possible, use elevators and escalators to go downstairs to avoid unnecessary added pressure and impact on your hips, knees, ankles and feet.


  1. Once you’re home, if you’re planning to host or attend a party, you may be faced with spending significant time on your feet in the kitchen. I encourage you to divide this task into three separate phases. Write down the recipes you plan to make, and review each for processes that can be done in advance (chop veggies, measure ingredients, etc.).
  • First, do the prep work for all the recipes, and then take a break. Drink water. Walk around your neighborhood, jump on a mini-trampoline (a rebounder), do some tai chi moves or yoga stretches.
  • After the prep work, complete the main parts of the recipes and when finished, take another break. Again, drink water, take a walk, or do some yoga stretches. Just make sure that you move your body in some healthy way. Even five minutes or so can provide healthy toning benefits.
  • Tackle the final phase; the cleanup. Get everything washed and put away. Now it’s time to reward yourself with another break of your choosing.

The principles outlined in item #4 can translate to any holiday project. If you’re decorating, crafting, or wrapping, make sure you take regular needed breaks. Let this article serve as a reminder to you of how important it is to keep your body moving – especially at this time of year. 

A flare-up of fibromyalgia symptoms is never fun. And, it can be particularly frustrating at this time of year. What could a fibro flare keep you from this holiday season? Could you miss your child’s school play sending others to attend instead? Or, perhaps a flare could require you to dispatch friends and family members to the stores to finish off your shopping list.  

Keep this mantra in mind:


prevents commotion.  

Motion (moving the body in healthy ways) can prevent the chaos that follows a fibro flare. Fibro flares affect you and everyone around you. The goal is to keep you healthy, so that you can do all the things that mean the most to you at this special time of year. 


This article is my original work and first appeared at It is reprinted with kind permission and may be viewed HERE.  

  1. Crisp and helpful once again. LOL, I did the very thing at the Mall yesterday. Good advice. Now I am in the throes of preparations but the gift list is small–mainly family and a few others. Since we are being treated by one daughter and her husband for a ‘week before’ Christmas return to Sanibel Island FL and then traveling to another daughter’s home in NY the day after we return, this year is going to be different. But I think I will like it! Another daughter is treating me to a concert of one of my favorites before Thanksgiving. Another daughter is blessing us with a visit during Thanksgiving. So it will be more about experiencing things together and relationships. This time of year triggers so much for me. I am so glad for the great diversions. Have a 34th Anniversary this Sunday and then a birthday (62nd) on December 29th. Don’t worry, I will pace with grace and exercise, too. Like I said, so different this year…but change can be good, too.

    1. Wow! You’ve got some amazing landmark events to look forward to in the months ahead! Congratulations! It takes practice, but we actually can learn to take things one step at a time, and not to fret about the “pile” of things to do. We can pare down our plans to the essentials and then practice self-care between events. Your holidays will be amazing and your plans of approach sound just right for you. I’m so glad!

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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