Setbacks and Flare-Ups
Setbacks & Flare-Ups
Even though the skills that you have learned through our service may be helping you to feel more in control of your symptoms, it is likely that you will still experience setbacks and flare-ups from time to time. Hopefully these will become less frequent with effective pacing, regular exercise and relaxation, but it is worthwhile planning how you will manage this in the future.
What Is A Setback?
Anything that increases your symptoms, or decreases your mobility or ability to keep up with your daily activities, can be a setback. This may be physical or emotional - so an injury or a bout of flu could cause it, as could a family bereavement or other significant event. You can usually (but not always) pinpoint what has triggered a setback.
What Is A Flare-Up?
A flare-up is a sudden and unexpected increase in fatigue or pain. You may not know what has caused this, although sometimes you can feel it building up in the days or weeks before it reaches its peak.
It can help to have a plan in place for when you notice a flare-up building - a kind of "emergency tool-kit" of things that you know work. This will be personal to you, but may include things like making sure you are packing your activities, getting enough sleep, and practising mindfulness.
How To Manage A Setback or Flare-Up
The ‘rules’ for managing a setback or flare-up are similar. You need to:
- Rest. Stop doing most of your normal activities and take time out for 2-3 days.
- Increase the amount of time you spend doing relaxation exercises.
- Reduce your physical exercises but try not to stop altogether.
- Use your medication sensibly. If you have painkillers or anti-inflammatories that you only use when needed, now is the time to do so. Take them as stated, then gradually come back off them. If you are concerned about taking medication, discuss this with your GP.
- Delegate more and ask for help. This is when you really need it.
- Tell yourself that this is a temporary phase. It will pass. You are NOT back to square one.
- Talk to someone who knows what it's like.
- Do something enjoyable every day. Have a setback plan ready with enjoyable activities.
- Start to get active again, but don't expect to go straight back to where you left off. Set new baselines and pace yourself.
- Reintroduce any exercises that you were doing gradually.
- Take back the tasks/activities that you delegated during the flare up.
- Congratulate yourself on having worked through the setback. The more control you have over it, the more confident you will feel to manage it.
Once you can feel things starting to subside, you are ready to move on again.
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Worksheet 7.2 - Setbacks And Flare Ups Plan