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Low Motivation With Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Get Moving, On Days when You Have Energy


Updated June 25, 2014

Low Motivation With Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

One of the most pervasive and persistent symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome is low motivation. Sometimes it's the result of low energy, pain, fatigue or brain fog, while other times it's just there, all on its own.

It's easy to feel lazy when you just don't have the motivation to do something. This is probably more of a physiological problem, possibly related to neurotransmitter imbalance, than it is outright laziness -- however, when low motivation is the only symptom preventing us from doing something, it's good to have ways to get yourself going.  After all, you might be feeling a lot worse tomorrow, especially if you're beating yourself up for not getting anything done.

I had one of these low-motivation days recently. I was a little tired but not what I'd call fatigued; I had aches and pains but nothing severe; my head was pretty clear; I didn't have a lot of physical energy, but the work I needed to do was mostly mental. I posted about it on my Facebook page and asked what tricks other people had for overcoming these motivational lapses. It got some great responses, so I wanted to summarize them here:

  • Listening to music (which can be therapeutic on many levels)
  • Making up artificial deadlines
  • Starting with the smallest/simplest task, then using the feeling of accomplishment as a springboard to the next one
  • Delegate or recruit help & make it fun
  • Look at tasks one at a time instead of overwhelming yourself with a long list
  • Celebrating each accomplishment
  • Break tasks into steps that can be accomplished in just a few minutes
  • Ignore the list for awhile and do something self-indulgent, to improve your mood and boost your motivation for the next day
  • A hot bath

Remember, these are for the days when your other symptoms aren't your biggest limiting factors! On those days, pacing needs to be more of a priority, and maybe you're wise to ignore that to-do list for the day.

The trick I usually use is starting with the smallest task first. It really helps me get going, and I believe that's for 2 reasons:

  1. It's less intimidating/overwhelming to start a small task.
  2. The feeling of accomplishment from reaching a goal is therapeutic -- it causes a release of norepinephrine in your brain, a neurotransmitter many of us could use more of.

What helps you overcome low motivation? Is it a common problem you face? Do you wish your other symptoms would quiet down enough for this to be a problem? Leave your comments below!

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Photo © Michael Hitoshi/Getty Images

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