You may have had your pain, stiffness, and fatigue for a while now. It is important to realise that these symptoms are not going to disappear overnight.
However, as you learn more about ways to reduce your symptoms and practice these strategies, you are likely to see gradual improvements. You may start to feel better and more able to do things. Notice the small positive changes and congratulate yourself for them.
Monitoring your symptoms
Given that your symptoms may change over time, some young people find it helpful to use a diary or journal to track what works to help control their symptoms and to monitor changes. It is important to keep track of your energy level, your comfort and your activities. The journal just needs to be done for a short period of time so you can identify what helps to reduce your symptoms. This information can also help you talk to your doctor about your symptoms and to identify other ways to manage them.
Try keeping track of how well your medications, physical methods and coping strategies are working at managing your most bothersome symptoms.
Acknowledge the symptoms
It is important to recognise what causes your pain, stiffness and fatigue and how to cope with those symptoms before they get too difficult to handle. This means that as soon as you notice these symptoms, you need to put your plan to work. If you wait until your symptoms are really bad, these strategies might not work as well. Try to track what strategies have worked the best for your symptoms.
Plan the strategy
The strategy for dealing with your symptoms might vary depending on the situation that you are in. For example, you may need a different plan for school than you do for home. There is no correct way for dealing with your symptoms. Some strategies will be more effective than others. Discuss your options with your doctor and family and choose a plan that works best for you.
Carry out the plan
Once you have made a plan, follow it. It will take practice to learn how to make your plan effective. Your plan may include relaxing and doing stretches in bed before getting up, and then hopping into a hot shower every morning. Sticking to your plan will help reduce the stiffness and pain in your joints.
Evaluate and change the plan if needed
Managing your pain, fatigue and stiffness is a matter of figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for you. If you have tried a plan for a while and find that it isn’t working, think about changing that plan. Also, changes may need to be made to your plan as things change with your health or in your life. For example, you may need to change your plan when you graduate from high school and move on to university. It is important to discuss your plan and how you think you are doing with members of your health care team. They may be able to come up with some good suggestions for helpful plans.
Keep a positive attitude about your condition. Although it can be hard to always be positive, especially when you aren’t feeling well, staying positive will make you better able to adjust your plan and try out other strategies. Remember to praise yourself for your efforts. Pat yourself on the back for trying, even if you don’t think you’ve achieved the results you hoped for. It is possible that you may need to revise your goals, adjust your expectations or take things more slowly than you originally planned. Continuously reward yourself while you are working on reducing your symptoms. Staying positive can help keep you focused on your goals and can help you to become more confident about your ability to reach them!
Setting goals: Your plan for managing symptoms
In order to reduce your symptoms and increase your ability to do important things in your life, it is necessary to set goals.
What are your goals for managing your symptoms? Are your goals S.M.A.R.T. goals?
Remember that S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
• Timely – can be achieved in a realistic time frame.