Fibro-Friendly Hobbies and Pastimes
One of the challenges of adjusting to fibromyalgia is finding hobbies and pastimes that don’t aggravate your symptoms. Better yet, you want to seek out activities that provide you with gratification and distraction from the pain. The Fibromyalgia Network surveyed its Members and here are a few of the most endorsed fibro-friendly pastimes:
One person who took photography lessons at the local community college said she carries a camera in her purse all the time. “I never know where the right picture will happen … I also shop for unusual frames to keep my pictures in or to give them away to family members or close friends.”
A second patient said: “When I took my first photography class several years ago from our local nature center, little did I know the benefits it would offer now that I have fibro.” As she strolls with her husband around the parks, she shoots pictures of birds and beautiful scenes. “I can soon forget how bad I hurt … nature is very relaxing.”
“During the first three years following the injury that led to my fibromyalgia, I gave up softball, work, fishing, hiking, writing, and training my children for sports,” said a parent trying to adjust to fibro. “Then I remembered my camera and rediscovered how much I love watching the helicopters land and take off at the local hospital. Now on the weekends, I take my files from work, my dog, and my camera to the hospital parking lot. I work until a chopper is coming in or out. The pictures are wonderful and make me feel accomplished. I still miss softball and get angry about my pain and limitations, but now I realize I have choices and can do something I enjoy.”
Dancing of all types provides aerobic exercise, if you are up to it. You may also just try “going through the motions” for the social benefits that various types of group dancing can offer. Contact your local community centers for activity listings.
“My main distraction is Country Western line dancing,” said one patient. “It gets me moving with all the pleasure and none of the sweat of regular exercise. Although my husband and I both dance, it is not necessary to have a partner.”
“My favorite distraction is square dancing!” exclaimed one Member. “It’s not just for old folks anymore. It’s good clean fun and you’d never know that you walked three miles in an evening. One of the first calls you learn is a “yellow rock” which means hug the person you’re looking at. No alcohol is allowed because you have to be able to follow directions (hopefully your attention isn’t too bothered by fibro fog). It’s teamwork in action, plus food, friends and exercise.”
Learning Something New
One patient recommended taking a new class each session at a local community college or arts school. It shouldn’t be boring or something you do by yourself … take a class with a friend. You might start out with a short course in history to learn about your ancestors or a class in calligraphy—just try a topic that strikes you as fun.
Regarding this last suggestion, one patient stated: “I was interested in calligraphy, but I didn’t know if I could do something that exacting with my hands, which tire and cramp easily. But, what the heck, I wanted to see if I could do it. With practice, I discovered that I was fairly good! Now I incorporate calligraphy into handmade cards for the holidays … a papermaking workshop last fall added another dimension to my artwork and cards.”
Gift-Making Throughout the Year
Specially made gifts often provoke kind or loving feelings. It signals that a person went out of their way to make something just for you. Many patients suggested a fun way to get ready for the holidays is gift-making done throughout the year. Make a list of the people who you wish to give presents to and then as a year-around hobby, start making them gifts.
“Bargains from flea markets and garage sales are what I dress up to make presents. Sale items help my pocketbook; already worn thin from the cost of medications. A touch of lace, a bit of ribbon, some fancy buttons and ideas from women’s magazines can create unique ‘made myself’ gifts.”
Use the arts, crafts and hobbies you have learned (such as stamp-making and calligraphy) to make gift-giving special. As the season rolls around, you will be able to enjoy it instead of wearing yourself out at the shopping malls.
Herb & Flower Gardens
Squatting down to flowerbeds may make your muscles more sore. Instead, patients suggested lining the sill of your kitchen window or a ledge on your patio with small pots. Fill the bottom of a few plastic containers with two inches of small stones for water drainage, then use potting soil mixed with sand for the rest. Common herbs to grow are: parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, and spearmint. “There is nothing that can quite compare with the flavor of food or a cup of tea prepared with fresh picked herbs,” said one patient. And if you want color, many patients recommended adding small seasonal flowers or decorating the pots.
Writing can be a creative outlet for many people. One patient who used to be a physical education teacher and dancer, decided she needed to focus on something else. “Since I couldn’t dance professionally anymore, I decided to teach myself creative writing with some help from several community center classes. They were laid-back and non-competitive. I only sit at my computer for 15 minutes at a time and write anything that comes into my head. Two writing sessions a day helps takes my mind off the pain.”