I’m lucky(?) enough to have received a disability support pension and have the (financial and emotional) support of my mother but not everyone is so fortunate. Many of you have to deal with the added challenges of going to work (and I really don’t know how you can do it – so huge kudos to you!)
While any job can be stressful, when you add in FM, it can almost be intolerable. Luckily, Dr Steven Yen from EverythingFibromyalgia.com has a few ideas about how to make your office environment friendlier to your symptoms.
1.) Take Your Seat: Many things can be done to make sitting more comfortable. There are a variety of seat cushions that help support your back, and there are even seat cushions that have heat and massage! Consider swapping out your office chair for an exercise ball for short intervals during the day. Many FM patients find this soothing, and it will also help strengthen your core and help correct some physical problems that contribute to FM pain.
2.) Plant Your Feet Firmly on the Ground: You need to ensure you have good posture when you sit. Poor posture can cause structural issues that exacerbate the pain of FM. Also, be mindful of your footwear. For people who stand all day, that last point was a “ no-brainer.” Unfortunately, many women in office environments think that because they aren’t standing wearing high heels won’t affect them… this is not true. When you have Fibro, you have a higher sensitivity to foot pain. If you absolutely must wear high shoes, make sure you have a comfortable pair with arch support at your desk to slip into during the day. Many people find the simple act of changing shoes a mental and physical refresher.
3.) Take Stretching Breaks: Once an hour take a small break, at your desk, to do a simple stretching activity. Something as simple as gently stretching your head from side-to-side will get your blood flowing, and help combat fatigue and Fibro-Fog. Also, get up and walk while you can.
4.) Pay Attention to the Temperature: Always dress in light layers, always bring a sweater, and always have some kind of heat source (i.e. hand warmer) at your disposal. Often, businesses keep their buildings unreasonably cold, even in the summer, and that can cause Fibro to flare.
5.) Get Ergonomic: Did you know there are even ergonomically designed pens that help with wrist and hand pain? While there are many items on the market that can make your workday less painful, something as simple as lowering your monitor can cause dry eyes and neck pain. Speak with an Occupational Therapist, or even your doctor, about simple, cost-free tips. For Example, don’t hold the phone with your shoulder! It causes neck spasms! Hold the phone with your hands… You will thank me!
6.) Talk to HR- You need to be your best advocate. You need to take care of yourself, and asking for ideas to help you be the most productive employee you can be, is not a sign of weakness. There are a lot of accommodations you may not even be aware are available to you. Please, save the following link- it is from the Job Accommodation Network, and it outlines what may be done within the workplace. http://askjan.org/media/Fibro.html
Ideally, if a job were causing you physical and emotional distress, you would be able to find a new position or take a reduction in hours. Unfortunately, not all of us can do this.
Many people are scared about job security and don’t want to rock the boat; however, you need to take care of your needs, and never feel guilty about it! By taking a proactive approach to your work environment, you are empowering yourself.
Finding your inner power is inspiring, and helps you heal!!