How to avoid a circuit overload.

Originally published on May 12th, 2016 for Fibromyalgia Summit 2016

Life is a balancing act of all the various roles we play in life. I made a list of what roles I am playing at this time in my life. I am a mom, daughter, wife, employee, friend, care-taker, support group leader, and writer. Each of those roles have a long list of responsibilities attached.

 What is an Overloaded Circuit?

An overloaded circuit is an electric circuit that is carrying more current than it can handle, creating a danger of blowing a fuse or worse. It often occurs when too many appliances are connected to a circuit at one time.

There is only so much a healthy person’s brain can handle. Consider the Fibromites brain — in addition to our life’s responsibilities, we face chronic pain, depression, fatigue, and the stress of dealing with our illness.

An overloaded circuit, for us, can lead to a fibro flare, which usually means greater pain, depression, severe exhaustion, and fibro fog. It is important that we learn how to “unplug our wires” to help us from “blowing a fuse.”


Avoiding a Fibromyalgia Circuit Overload Here are a few of the ways I have learned to help avoid a fibromyalgia circuit overload:


circuit overload pic

1. Make a daily schedule. Follow a daily routine including going to bed and waking up, meals, computer time, exercise, and so on. Sticking to a routine may help you remember what tasks you have to do each day, and in what order to do them. It is also very important to try to keep your weekend and holiday schedules as similar to your weekday schedule as possible.

2. Plan ahead. Choose the best time of day to How to Avoid a Circuit Overload Melissa Swanson 1 accomplish tasks that may take greater physical or mental energy. You know when your body and mind are at their optimum. Find a time when you are able to control your environment. Give yourself the setting that you need to help you think clearly and be comfortable.

3. Simplify and celebrate. Break down tasks into simple and achievable steps to prevent becoming stressed and overwhelmed. Take breaks. Even when there feels like there isn’t enough time — your body needs it. Set a timer to remind yourself that you need a break. Celebrate the completion of each step. It will help to keep you motivated to keep going. Also, give yourself time to rest before you go onto the next step.

4. Use reminders. Make “to do lists.” Use post-it notes, write on a calendar or in a notebook. Use technology. There are so many free apps that can be used on your computer and phone that will help you remember. One of the best apps that I have found is Evernote. You can use it to create notes, to-do lists, reminders and checklists. It can be both synced with your other devices and shared with others.

5. Exercise. Exercise can help us when we start to feel overloaded. It can increase your energy and help your mental clarity. Low-impact activities, such as swimming or walking, are a great form of exercise. They help to improve balance, range of motion, reduce pain and improve quality of sleep. A group water aerobics class can be a great social outing. Exercise secretes endorphins that can help lift your mood, relieve anxiety & stress feelings and increase energy. Be sure to start slow and listen to your body. It’s important to not over do it but to keep moving.

6. Make time for yourself each day. Whether you choose to spend a few minutes in meditation, reading a book or soaking in a warm bath it is important to find time for yourself. Write “your time” into your daily schedule. We are all busy and our response is often I do not have the time. One way to make sure you find the time or remember to make the time for yourself is to write it into your 2 daily schedule. If it bothers you, like it does me, to be doing “nothing” when you have so much to do, start out slow. Give yourself 10 minutes of alone time. You might find you really enjoy it and how beneficial it can be for you.

7. Learn to say “no”. This is the hardest thing for me to do. You can easily go into overload if you don’t set limits or say “no”. Before saying “yes” you need to take a few things into consideration. Will saying yes to this commitment keep you from getting rest, exercise or relaxation? Will you need to work harder to complete the other things on your daily activities? Is the activity worth the possible added fatigue and pain that you could develop for doing it? I have been told on more than one occasion that it is great that I want to help others but by doing so I am overloading myself which in the end is hurting me.

8. Ask for help and support when you need it. Asking for help before you have pushed yourself too far is really important. Fibromyalgia support groups can offer the understanding, advice and support from others who have “been there – done that.” It helps when the people around you understand what you are going through. It takes time but if you start by following these tips you can learn how to not have a circuit overload (fibro flare) and continue to live like a Fibro Warrior ~ Living Life.

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