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Why You Should Keep a Fibro Journal

A Fibromyalgia diagnosis can leave you feeling that you have been set adrift on a stormy sea of uncertainty. Your symptoms are in constant flux and make it extremely difficult to plan or commit to work, family, or friends' schedules. Your only constant is the deep knot of guilt and shame that sits heavily in your stomach. The loss of control can seem absolute, but it does not have to be. There is a way to wrestle back some control, keep a daily Fibro Journal.

Keeping Track of Your Symptoms
Keeping a Fibro Journal can, over time, tease out patterns that you just would overlook when going about your day-to-day life. For example, are you keeping a good sleep routine, getting to bed at the same time and waking at the same time each day? How do you feel after exercising? Is the weather influencing your symptoms? What daily activities are triggering your symptoms? What steps can you take to minimise their effects?

Tracking your symptoms alongside your day-to-day activity can enhance your relationship with your doctor. How often have you sat with your doctor and found brain fog descending? It can be so frustrating, but with your Fibro Journal by your side, you will be able to give your doctor tangible evidence of your symptoms. It also helps you show how committed you are to your own self-management. Excerpts from your Fibro Journal can also be used as part of your evidence when making a PIP (Personal Independence Payment) claim.

Your Mental Health and Immune System

Having a chronic illness, such as Fibromyalgia, is stressful, so it is not surprising that many people with Fibromyalgia exhibit symptoms such as anxiety and depression. A 2018 study concluded that:

'PAJ [Positive Affect Journaling] may serve as an effective intervention for mitigating mental distress, increasing well-being, and enhancing physical functioning among medical populations.'

Writing in detail about what is on your mind, whether past trauma or the remnants of a dreadful day at work, allows you to express yourself in a meaningful way and can be cathartic as well. According to an article published by the Cambridge University Press in 2018,(ii) the long-term benefits of journaling include:

  • Improved Immune System
  • Improved Liver Function 
  • Improved Lung function
  • Improved Working Memory
  • Reduced Depressive Symptoms
  • Sleep On-set Latency in Poor Sleepers

With this evidence, it seems that keeping a Fibro Journal will go some way to help alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, depression, brain fog and struggling to get to sleep. It is not a miracle cure, but most definitely a positive step to gaining back a little control over this horrible illness.

How Much Does It Cost?

The good news continues, as journaling does not have to cost the earth. A standard biro and a wire-bound notebook are all you need. Once in a while, you can splash out on a beautiful notebook, such as these at Papier. Create a list of your favourite notebooks and ask family and friends to buy them for your birthday or other special occasions. If you struggle with writing due to hand pain and stiffness, try EverNote, which you can use for free.

Journaling can go some way to giving you a sense of control over your Fibromyalgia. That knot of anxiety and shame we often feel when we must pull out of a social event should slowly start to fade from the pit of your stomach as you make more informed decisions based on the information you have collated in your Fibro Journal. Knowledge is power, and you will feel much more confident when accepting or declining an invitation to socialize in the future.

Tell us what you have learned about yourself and Fibromyalgia whilst journaling. Do you have any tips for those just starting to Journal? Share your comments on our Facebook group.

(i) Smyth, Joshua M et al. "Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial." JMIR mental health vol. 5,4 e11290. 10 Dec. 2018, doi:10.2196/11290

(ii) Baikie, K. A. and Wilhelm, K. (2005) "Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing," Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, Cambridge University Press, 11(5), pp. 338–346.

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