Fun Things It's Hard to Do With Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS

...And How You Can Still Enjoy Them

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When you have a debilitating condition like fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), just about everything becomes harder.

That even applies to things that should be fun or entertaining. Some of them can be stressful or taxing beyond our ability to do them, or to fully enjoy them. We may need to take a different approach to them so they can still be enjoyable parts of our lives.

Going Out to Dinner

For a lot of people, going out to dinner seems like an easier option than cooking at home.

For us, however, that's often not the case (even though cooking is often difficult, too.)

First, you have to be presentable to go out in public. The getting-ready process can be draining and leave you without the energy to leave the house. If you have to drive yourself to the restaurant, that can be another complicating factor. (You can find more on both these activities in 4 Daily Things It's Hard to Do.)

Then there's the potential problems of the restaurant itself. Loud noise, bright lights, and visual clutter can be problems there. Temperature sensitivity can be an issue as well – a lot of restaurants are kept cool because it urges people to eat more.

When deciding where to eat, be sure you consider these elements of the atmosphere. Also, consider the time of day, since peak meal times are likely to be a lot noisier and chaotic.

Another common issue for us is food sensitivities. Avoiding problem foods is especially difficult when you eat out, and ordering the wrong thing can leave you with a nasty set of symptoms.

Some restaurants have special menus for common sensitivities, such as gluten, but trying to figure out what is safe for you can be a stressful process.

With food sensitivities, it may help to check for ingredients lists and special menus online before you go. That way, you can avoid the problem of not knowing what to order.

More information:

Reading a Book

These conditions involve cognitive problems (fibro fog or brain fog) and stress-system dysregulation. The symptoms these problems cause can have a major impact on what kind of entertainment we choose.

A lot of people with these conditions say that they can't remember what they've read well enough to read a novel. When the fog is bad, you may find yourself reading the same paragraph over and over and still not understanding it.

Suspenseful stories, which get your heart racing, can be exhausting to us and can lead to an upswing in symptoms. That applies even if you enjoy it at the time. Make sure you pay attention to what impact your choice of reading material has on your symptoms.

It may help to read magazines or short stories, or stick to simpler storylines.

Some features of an eReader may help you deal with illness-related problems. See: eReader Benefits for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Playing Games

Playing games – be they board games or video games – can be a great way to pass the time and connect with other people. However, a few things can pose problems for us.

Competitive, fast-paced games are designed to get your brain operating at a higher level than usual. While this is pleasurable and beneficial for most people, it is a form of stress and could trigger symptoms.

Video games with a lot of noise and visual chaos may trigger sensory issues, including overload, which also can cause symptoms to flare up.

Games with complicated rules may be frustrating and tiring for those with brain fog. It may also be embarrassing to forget the rules and make mistakes that seem "silly" to other people.

If you find yourself becoming anxious or agitated during a game, or feeling worse afterward, it may not be a good one for you to play.

Also, pay attention to how you feel several hours after playing a game, as our "crash" response can be delayed.

Don't give up games altogether, though! The right kind may be good for you. See: Video Games as Treatment.

Watching TV & Movies

Issues with television and movies are similar to those of reading and games. It may help you to avoid complex, tension-filled plots, loud explosions, and fast-paced, chaotic visuals.

Fortunately, a lot of options are available. Between cable, satellite, discs by mail, video-streaming services and the Internet, it's a lot easier than it used to be to find entertainment that suits you.

For more information on this topic, see: Entertainment-Related Stress.