Though it’s root cause remains a medical mystery, millions of people around the world suffer from the everyday aches, pains, and potentially debilitating symptoms of fibromyalgia. This chronic illness is particularly frustrating to deal with thanks to the hit-and-miss nature of the current medications that are approved to treat the symptoms, and the fact that so many sufferers deal with a broad range of symptoms that can wax and wane unexpectedly. If you’re caught in the grip of a fibromyalgia flare-up and need some relief, try some of these sufferer-approved coping strategies.

Utilise massage.

Hard pressure massage can be uncomfortable for someone suffering from fibromyalgia, but light pressure applied in the right areas can do wonders for relieving tense muscles and reducing pain levels. If you can’t afford to go for professional massages on a regular basis, consider investing in one of the many high-quality massage chairs that you can use from the comfort of your own home to release agonising back pain without having to leave the house or pay large sums of money for a treatment.

Apply heat strategically.

Many fibromyalgia sufferers find that heat is a precious tool during flare-ups. Immerse yourself in a hot bath, and include magnesium-packed Epsom salts and essential oils so you can lie back and relax. Lying in a hot bath all day isn’t always possible, but you can still use heat to reduce pain with heating pads, electric blanketsor hot water bottles applied to painful areas. Some sufferers find that cold can also be useful, particularly when dealing with the frequent headaches that so often accompany fibromyalgia.

Lower your stress levels.

Stress is a well-known trigger for flare-ups, so it’s important to bring your stress levels down as much as possible. This may mean learning to say, ‘no’ when necessary to free up the time you need to rest and pace yourself. Make sure you include some time each day to actively address your stress levels, particularly if you’re feeling especially anxious or are going through a difficult time. Use meditation apps to train your brain to calm down under any circumstances, and take deep breaths, focusing on the inhale and the exhale, to bring your stress levels down when necessary

Address your sleep problems.

Researchers have found that there is a direct link between poor quality sleep and fibromyalgia pain, so addressing this problem is essential if you want to improve your quality of life. Certain medications can help you get to sleep more easily and stay asleep throughout the night, and prescribed pain medications in the evening may reduce the odds of waking in the night in pain. You may also want to consider practicing sleep hygiene techniques like setting up a winding-down period before bed and removing electronics from the bedroom to prevent poor sleep from worsening your symptoms.

Pace yourself.

Many fibromyalgia sufferers find themselves in a push-crash cycle where they do too much on good days and then fall into pain flare-ups soon after. You can combat this issue by pacing yourself every day, even when your symptoms are at a low level. Set up a schedule that includes light activity as well as periods of rest to ensure that you’re not caught in the cycle of pushing and crashing.