Fibromyalgia Action UK

Fibro and Stress


Does anyone else find that stress really impacts upon your pain and fatigue levels? I have been pretty stable for the last 2 years, but over the course of the last few weeks I have been under an immense amount of stress thanks to the incompetence of my university. This has resulted in levels of pain that I only experienced at the time I was diagnosed, whihc was the largest falre-up I have ever had and fatigue that makes me feel like I am constantly jet lagged.

I just wondered if others experience the same correlation between stress and flare-ups and also if anybody has any tips on how to nip it in the bud, before my body becomes useless once again.

43 Replies

Hi there

In answer to your Q about whether stress affects the fibro and fatigue I would honestly say yes as it appears to affect everything.

Have you spoke to your GP about how stress is affecting you? he/she should be able to help you and will be able to arrange appropriate treatments.

If you click on the butterfly in the top right of your screen it will take you the FibroAction web-site where you can find a wealth of information regarding Fibromyalgia, up to date research and also a section about alternative therapies plus much more.

I've suffered an anxiety disorder for 20yrs and have had counselling and been through anxiety management to help me keep it under control and learn how to manage it :)

I cannot advocate it enough alongside making time in your day for relaxation as it kinda mimics sleeps and gives your body a chance to re-charge and help the healing and repair of our bodies. I've put up a few posts with respect to relaxation if you'd like to take a peek and see if it works for you :)

You can access them via clicking the sub category Symptoms/Treatments and I must state that my posts do not replace the relationship between you and your doctors or other healthcare professionals nor the advice you receive from them. You can also access them through clicking on my photo to see my profile and scroll through my posts

:) I find it helps me tremendously and it also helped me get through uni twice for my degree and my Masters :)

Hope this is helpful for you and sending healing fluffie cuddles your way to help beat the pain and fatigue :)

If you'd like to chat about it please just give me a nudge :)

:) xxxsianxxx :)


Hi Sian

I will definitely have a look at the items you have posted. As for talking to my gp or doctor, that is something I am not really able to do. We moved to Australia about 15 months ago and I am struggling to find one that seems to understand fibro. They all just seem to nod and give me the kind of look, which says I think you are a hypochondriac :-(

I do currently do a lot of Pilates and yoga, bit the last few weeks even that hasn't helped and has become extremely painful, so really at a loss. I think the only thing I can do is hope my uni back in Wales sorts out the issues so I can get my mphil complete and put the whole saga and stress behind me as soon as possible.


It's a shame that the goodness of your studies are being marred by this.................. try to keep/find the enthusiasm that made you take the studies to begin with and use it as a focussing tool. For a little while anyway!!

With respect to doctors my suggestion is to be as knowledgeable as you can be so it shows that you know what you're talking about and be persistent, we're not hyperchondriacs remember to tell yourself that everyday :)

Wishing you wellness and hope the flare eases soon, Fluffies heading your way super fast to get to you

:) xxxsianxxx :) try to be as positive as you can be xx


Thank you, trying to stay positive and am getting a referral to neurology, so fingers crossed they can help me get my condition back under control. Thank you for your advice and words of comfort :-)


You're quite welcome hunny :)

Fingers are crossed for you :)


Yes, I could cope with anything until I got ill - for example, I drove an aid lorry from Bristol to Gaza, worked in war zones, started a very stressful business, and I just thrived on it. But now - I had my best friend come to stay for 5 weeks in the summer and I just loved having her to stay, it was like a dream come true, yet just all the changes in my daily routine made me feel really ill and it took me 4 months to get back to the same point. But you have to make the decision sometimes to do something you want and pay the price. My GP who is a fibro sceptic just thinks it completely proved I am a total nutter - so I took courage in both my hands and changed my GP, as he had become part of my problem. Hope you get your university probs sorted. The difficulty is that people who haven't had fibro just can't understand how it affects you, and I guess that includes univerisity staff as well. Love and hugs x


Morning yes stress magnifier of all pain. It seems to bring on Fibro faster than anything. Is there a way to exclude stress well no we all suffer it in some way or another either we induce it or it is external.

I think we all want to know the way to nip it in the bud - it sounds like we can circumvent it starting-

can we well I dont think so.

Mostly it comes from exterior factors,family friends, the government, doctors medication, timings oh you could go on. What we need most of all is light relief in our lives. It can be anything but it calms us, it could be a picture, a scene music a friends voice just something that turns of the stress switch which grows inside us. I personally use fun laughter amusement, love, or even just stroking a animal. The movement of our hand stroking the animal is relaxing calming and de stresses us.

Xeb has written a good response she has also put up some brilliant exercises and indeed visit your Gp and keep calm while you explain and see if he has the answer.

Do try to also have some light relief marvelous :) Good luck

You can always talk to us at any time

Take care


1 like

Sadly yes I do think stress makes it worse and im not sure if there is a way round it to be honest apart from removing the stress, you need to try to find extra ways to relax or speak to a counsellor at your uni to see if they can help


Funny enough I was at my hospitals fibro clinic last week and my doctor told me I need to try and not stress as this part of your brain works with the part that sends pain signals. I over the last week have been stressing a lot over different things and once again feel like I have been run over by a bus. So yes stress does impact on the fibro x


Hi ,

I am sure stress causes more pain .

when work pressures rise my health declines :(

Talk to the uni as they must have pastoral care they need to support .

Take care


Hi yes when I'm stressed my fibro symptoms increase and it can cause a major flare up. I would definately speak to someone at uni, most provide a counciling service. I have learned to cope better at these times by having some counciling and using some techniques I learned on a pain management course, breathing etc, can't tell you how helpful these are and make you feel you have some control at stressful times. Really hope you can get some help and that your flare up settles down soon. Take care x x


Really sorry littlewelshy that you are having a flare up. Wish I could help, but I have noticed the same myself. Stress seems to aggravate the symptoms. Hope someone can give you some advice and I can try it two. Good luck :)


Yeah I do I'm having a bad flare up today and I'm so tired all the time and the bad weather we're having doesn't help hope you feel better soon warm huggles


Hi, Yes, identify with all above. With me, I often just feel like shutting myself off and end up cancelling plans I've made with friends. It's so easy to give in but I know it's the worst thing I can do as I then start wallowing in self pity. I know it's difficult sometimes but try and stay positive.

Jenni. X.


Stress is definitely a trigger, as is the damp cold weather and there can be any manner of things that can trigger a flare-up. I have a lovely GP and in addition to the Amitrypteline that I am on at night, she has put me on Paracetamol and Ibuprofen every day. It doesn't take away the pain, but it does dull it a bit. I notice when I haven't taken it. Try making sure you get to bed early too. Lack of sleep doesn't help. Good luck.


Hi, yes, a few years ago I had a very stressful time and my fibro flared up and all my fatigue came back so could hardly walk. Three years later I am improved but really struggle with muscle fatigue in legs. What I've found is that this is my body's way of responding to stress so I need to lighten up, allow myself to relax properly, deep breathe when stressed and learn to say no to things when I know it will make me unwell. Treat yourself really kindly and just learn to have fun whenever you get the chance, even if that fun isn't what you would have done before you were ill. xx

1 like

Hello fibro friend,

Without a doubt, stress = flare! Overload of cortisol and adrenaline during these times is not good for anybody but really bad for us as we are so physically hypersensitive, the dial is turned up too high in our brains/CNS. There are already many sensible posts here to help you. In addition, I have recently been to a Fibro Clinic at Guy's Hospital in London and was then referred to a "Mindfulness Course" at St Thomas' where we worked with a Physio and a Psychologist. This can really help when practiced regularly, in flare and out. There are lots of guided meditations on Youtube re stress, pain, anxiety, acceptance, mindfulness, etc. Have a browse till you find what works for you. Daily exercise of some sort, even if just gentle stretching or a walk will release "feel-good" chemicals. All this worry is affecting the quality of your sleep more than usual I suspect, as is the case with me, and in turn this causes more fibro symptoms. I can get to sleep ok, in fact hard to stay awake, but I do not always go into that deep restorative sleep that really makes you feel refreshed the next day, especially when more stressed than usual - it's the thing I am working on at the moment. Ear plugs, very thick curtains to block any light and very warm bed do help.

Remember you are not alone. If you have a Higher Power, ask for help. If you don't, feel free to ask mine! Give yourself a gentle hug. Also, as "gins" pointed out in another post, laughter is a really good medicine. Charlie Chaplin once said that a day without laughter is a day wasted! I do hope the Uni problems are quickly resolved.

God bless and keeep you safe, omshanti12 x


Stress will aggravate any existing health condition. Those stress hormones flood our body & have detrimental effects on our health. Also, if we have a chronic debilitating disease, we are so conditioned to fear & stress that our nervous systems are over-reactive & more easily go into fight-or-flight mode, which is exhausting. Certainly that is true of physical pain where our neurotransmitters become so accustomed to receive pain signals that they fire more quickly & so we feel pain more acutely! This is not in the mind but a fact! It's called allodynia & is a feature of chronic pain. With your stress, it's important to manage it, pace yourself & try to avoid it wherever possible. Easier said than done of course! Try to anticipate stressful situations & get plenty of rest or 'time out' before during & after, even if it's only ten minutes here & there. Breathing and relaxation techniques have helped me with my pain. I have been practising 'autogenics' which is a relaxation technique & helped me too. Mindfulness seems to have become more accepted in the mainstream & your GP may be able to help you with this. Nothing can stop stressful situations & unfortunately our sensitive systems feel it more than most in physical ways. I personally feel that learning to accept that fact & finding the right tools to help manage it are the keys to managing it. Cranio sacral therapy is also extremely good but not available on NHS. Hope this helps! Bonnie


Hi, yes mine if definitely stress related. Even after an argument I can be left feeling quite tired. I keep getting told to try not get stressed which is easier said than done and to try some relaxation techniques. I listen to relaxation podcasts to help and they do. As long as you can find somewhere quiet to listen to it.


I find stress can aggravate or even start anything. We all develop different ways of coping. Even being "in denial" is a form of that but an unhelpful one. In the past I found the best advice I was given worked. Avoid stressful situations, and those you can't avoid, deal with quickly, the sooner they're behind, the better. I found myself then anticipating and avoiding potentially stressful situations and becoming a bit reclusive.

I'm sorry to say all organisations have a ration of incompetence and incompetent people who will seek someone on whom to divert attention - oh that was a bit from the heart wasn't it?

You have my greatest sympathy and support. Gentle hugs. :)


I am just in the process of moving home.I have not felt this stressed in a long time.Stress = pain, Pain= stress its like being on a merry go round.Feel as if I haven't slept for weeks.My husband is profoundly deaf so I have to deal with all the phone calls etc.So in answer to your question Yes stress does cause more pain and fatigue.


Hi littlewelshy,

I totally agree that stress is a major factor.

In 2005 my incompetent university led to my eventual diagnosis, following 3 months in bed.

My bullying boss ultimately led to my having to give up work in 2011, having been off sick for a year.

My current housing situation is a nightmare and landlord issues have required paramedics out at 4am putting me on ECG for pain of costochondritis, for which I am now on co-codamol and valium.

Am counteracting this with meditation classes, yoga and pilates. Although I have to admit nothing is helping very much at present, but am still trying!

Have you tried student services? Hope they are more useful than mine!

Remember to keep your chin up

Gentle hugs

Let us know how you get on.



As everyone above has said - yes most definitely. Unfortunately life sometimes bungs stressors at us that we can't evade. The key is to try and find ways to strengthen your mental and emotional health to minimise the effect it has on your health. Easier said than done I know but if you have a smartphone you can download self-hypnosis apps to aid relaxation, sleep, etc. There's also a very good set of guided meditation CDs by Meditainment that can help de-stress (you can find them on Amazon).

Gentle exercise can help - yoga, pilates or tai-chi all help release natural endorphins without putting too much strain on the body.

If you can afford to it might be a nice idea to pamper yourself with an aromatherapy massage or some reflexology. The majority of my clients initially come to me with stress and anxiety problems and all find it really helps them cope.

I'm hopefully going to a workshop at the end of the month to find out what the Wellbeing service can do to help so I can pass the knowledge onto my clients. I'll post anything useful I find out on here as I think we can all do with all the help we can get.

I hope you start feeling more relaxed soon x


Absolutely 100% affects fibro symptoms. Stress is the biggest cause of an exacerbation in my symptoms and how I am able to cope with trying to live a normal life. I hope you find some way of alliviating the stress in your life. Thinking of you, Jas x


Hi there. I too have been experiencing severe and debilitating flare ups due to recent relentless stresses. I believe stress is inextricibly linked to these painful episodes and a wholly negative effect on fibromyalgia symptoms



Hello Littlewelshy,

Most researchers agree that Fibro is a central processing disorder with changes in the neuroendocrine/neurotransmitter systems (the systems that transmit messages around the body) and there is an increasing body of evidence to show that Fibro is a Central Nervous System related disorder, Fibro is sometimes called a central sensitisation syndrome (Lindsey Middlemiss 2009)

Stress can exacerbate Fibro symptoms as you seem to have experienced. There has been discussion about people living with Fibro have an inability to cope with the sudden physiological response to stress, for instance the 'Fight & Flight response'. Research continues.....

Here is some information from our website which may be of help, as you can learn to adapt and listen to your body to possibly reduce flares.

Some people find Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Emotion Freedom Technique or simple relaxation technique alongside their existing treatments to be of help too. Any technique you can find that is helpful to reduce stress should be beneficial to keep your symptoms on an even keel

I hope this helps

Best Wishes

Emma :)

FibroAction Administrator



Oh definitely! I find the slightest bit of stress can flare up pain. I find relaxation really helps, yoga,Tai chi & massage eases pain. If you don't have time for that, simple deep breathing can help. Making the effort to relax for even a few minutes while working helped me. Try and make time for things you enjoy that help you relax outside of work. Hope things get better for you.


Hi littlewelshy

I sincerely hope that you are feeling as well as can be? I am so sorry to read that you are having issues with Fibro and stress at the present time. I personally think that the two go hand in hand and cannot be separated. I know that when I feel stressed then my Fibro is much worse. I am sure that many people on the forum will say the same thing.

I sincerely hope that you can find some resolution to your problem

All my hopes and dreams for you



Thanks guys, it is good to know that I am at least not alone. Sadly ny university is now on the other side of theworld, as we moved to Australia last year for work and the warmer weather. Sorry not meaning to rub it in, as I know how miserable the weather back home currently is, but believe me 46℃ is not much fun either, so I know that hasn't helped as the incessant heat has stopped me getting any restorative sleep for the last few weeks. As for uni, they seem to have a new postgrad administrator, who just seems set to antagonize me and balls up the corrections process of my MPhil. Unlike our old administrator, who knew me before and aftery fibro diagnosis, this new one seems clueless and just thinks I am making excuses.

I currently am a very active person, cycling, pole dancing as well as yoga and Pilates, but sadly none of this helps at the moment and is extremely painful. I also get regular massages and see a chiropractor regularly, but nothing seems to be helping at the moment. As some if you said, hopefully once this stressful situation is resolved, hopefully my body will begin to recover

I think what frightens me most is the prospect of having to go back on lyrica or some other strong drug, as I have been controlling it all with the occasional amitriptyline, exercise and sometimes codeine for about two years. Just hope this isn't a step back...

Emma thank you fir all those links, I will certainly take the time to read through it all, well apart from the cbt bit ;-) As Broadgreen kicked me off the program twice, because apparently I am too active and too much of doer...oh well I am the way I am, and that will never change. At least I have my two furry purry babies and my amazing husband for cuddles and all of you amazing guys on here for moral support. You really are inspiring, as it's good to hear/see so many of you living normalish lives, like myself. Because last time I went to a support group, it really dragged me down as everyone was so negative and just focused on what they could no longer do or enjoy. Not the case here and that I like and find inspiring :-)


hi littlewelshy

i was wondering that myself as my pain although always there was able to cope ,but on the 30th january my daughter-in-law died suddenley of a heart attack,they couldnt find the reason why.anyway my pain has been unbearable and im so worn out ,and doing nothing ,im sorry i dont have any tips i could do with some myself but at least i know that it is stress causing this pain xx


Sorry to hear of your loss, it makes my problems and cause of stress seem insignificant. Hold on in there and just remember you will have good days again soon xx


Yes I find this a lot with my pain I have suffered with bouts of depression and Palin level goes up significantly


Absolutely. I'm at the stage where physical and or emotional stress will hurtle me into a flare. I find the worst thing is to fight it because that causes more frustration and stress. Go with the flow and you will come out of it all the sooner. Strong Chamomile tea is good too. Not the teabags...the flower heads.


Thanks, I have had no choice but to give in and take some time off from work and studies, as my body has left me with no choice. Oh well fingers crossed it comes around sooner rather than later.


ME too I have to avoid it wherever possible it is really difficult so I got into the relaxation and aromatherapy plus the calming teas :)


I'm finding it so useful to read all of your posts. Stress definitely affects my fibro symptoms as it does with all of us. I'm working full time and over the past 18 months or so, things have been full on and I've been working 60+ hours a week as well as studying for my DPhil. One huge flare lasting a couple of months at the end of last year, made me realise that I'm in control of my stress a bit - and that I really needed my work life to change to enjoy my home life more and to feel as well as I can. I'm trained in CBT techniques, which I normally use in the coaching I do with senior leaders. I needed to turn this inwards to help myself again - I'd forgotten to practice what I preach for too long! I find it easy to feel like I'm the only one working or studying with this awful illness, but you have all helped me to realise I'm not. Some months ago I wrote an article which was published in the Journal of Participatory Medicine about how I use my coaching training to help my fibro. You have inspired me to dig it out and revisit it again - thank you. Tx


Glad to hear we have inspired you revisit that paper yoy wrote. Wish I could say cbt helped me, but sadly it didn't. Maybe I just didn't have the best coaches, all I recall is them telling me that my drive and determination to lead a normal life was unrealistic and detrimental to the cbt course.


Stress always starts off a Flare up for me,with my Fibro,so I do all I can to avoid it.

I walk away from confrontations,best avoided at all costs for me.

Must add,I could well be called a reclusive person,I avoid going out, or even meeting new people...I just can't hack it.

Combined with Osteoarthritis,I have awful days with pain all over.

Now I have been told I have a possible lung disease,waiting for Consultants appointment after having a scan done,what more stress can one have...avoid it at all costs.

Take care all.Gentle (((hugs)) to you all.



Since I also work at a university and the level of stress in the last 2 years has made so sick that I am off sick since June last year, I feel for you. Suffering from stress at work for so long has made my health going down badly. If 4/5 years ago when I started at this uni, I could cope with my fibro by spending Saturdays in bed recovering and resting for the week ahead, now no amount of rest gives me enough energy to go back to work. or to be able to do much else, for that matter!! My advice is to go to your line manager in writing and explain how you are suffering from stress and how that stress is affecting your health negatively. An agreement / plan of action of how to improve the situation should be worked out by both. But if s/he doesn't take you seriously, go to HR and ask to be referred to the University Occupational Physician. You must make sure that it is taken seriously and that management is aware of the situation. My mistake was to complain to HR and allowed them not to have taken me seriously. Now I am at home with an uncertain future once my sick leave finished in a couple of months. The University and your line manager have a duty of care. If you inform them they could be in a difficult situation if later you get much sicker and they didn't do anything.

Good luck!!!!




Sorry to hear that you are having such a bad run with your fibromyalgia. My stress is due to being a student, although I do also work for a university which can be a very stressful place at times.I am currenlty awaiting a decision on the complaint I have lodged with the Head of my School, as the errors the staff within the dpertment have made are the cause of the stress, that and their 'I don't care' attitude because I am a remote student who can only assert myself via email.

I hope you get a break with your fibro soon and that you can then find a job that is less stressful and better suited to you. :)


When I was first diagnosed I was under extreme stress , was having constant panic attacks and finding being self employed an utter nightmare. I managed to keep my business going for another 6 years but eventually lost it 2009 the beginning of the recession. That's when all my stresses went along with my wife , company and home. At first I felt great yes I had lost everything but I had nothing left to lose so my health eventually started to improve. Then the government decided Fibro isn't bad enough to stop us working (like to see them work with this). So my stresses have returned and so my health has gone down hill.

So what's my point ?

Well doesn't matter what we do there are always stress that will cause a flare up.

I wish I could write something like 'Dont worry it will get better' but I cant because it wont.

Learn to live with our condition till hopefully one day they will invent the magic pill.

I wish I could be more positive but I am a realist.



I'm in constant pain (feels like hot molten lava in my body). The pain is in all 18 stress points of the body (hips and pelvis being the worse affected). I recently had an argument with a family member and could hardly walk the next day! i usually try to avoid stressful conversations or situations to try and stay calm and decrease stress induced pain, but this was unavoidable. I believe there's definitely a connection between the two. I'm not sure there's a long term "nip in the bud" approach, but when im struggling I try to watch things that make me laugh which is positive, to help cancel the negativity. I also put myself somewhere quiet and keep warm and ask not to be disturbed. usually for an hour. i find this helps.

All the best. Fibrofoggy14.x


Hi Fibrofoggy

Glad to hear I ma not the only one who descrines the pain in that way, as people often look at me as though I am crazy when I describe the pain in that manner. and yes I try to take my mind off of it and do relaxing and pleasant things, unfortunately this stressful situation has caused such a big flare that no amount of resting, relaxing or yoga/pilates is making the blindest bit of a difference. So guess I will just have to let it run its course and continue to be a slave to pain killers to get me through :( Fingers crossed one day they will find a cure, because times like this really get me down, as I feel stuck in a rut not having the energy or physical capability to do much more than survive work and try to get some sleep.


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