Working Differently, Working Better

If you are having trouble doing your job, consider speaking with a vocational rehabilitation counselor or social worker. These professionals can help assess your marketable skills and assist in your decision about whether to stay with your current job, find a new job, or train for a new and different profession.

In some cases, having fibromyalgia might simply mean doing your job a little differently than you used to. Simply tweaking the way you work can sometimes make all the difference. Here are some tips:

  • Pace your workload. Alternate between light tasks and heavy ones.

  • Create an efficient workspace. Place things you use frequently within easy reach.

  • Conserve energy. Reserve the harder or heavier jobs for the times of day when you feel most energetic.

  • Take regular breaks, even when you feel okay. Gentle stretching, relaxation exercises, and short rests can help rejuvenate you.

  • Develop working relationships. Trade off tasks that are difficult for you with a coworker.

  • Resist the urge to compare yourself with colleagues. Remember, they do not have fibromyalgia.

  • If necessary, consider working part-time or from home.

  • Be honest with yourself about your ability to do your job. Remember, your health must be a priority.

Before doing anything drastic, like quitting or filing for disability, try and make your job situation more accommodating to your needs. If you're having a major flare, most states have provisions for short-term disability that will allow you to focus on getting yourself better and getting back to full functionality. With some jobs, it may be difficult to make adjustments. Consider the case of Ellen, a preschool teacher in an urban district.

Ellen is the only teacher in a classroom with 18 four-year olds. So when she isn't feeling well, she does her best to stay off her feet. She also limits the amount of gross motor activities she does with the kids. On days when she's scheduled a visit to the nearby museum, she will cancel the trip and instead take the kids to the playground, where she doesn't have to do so much walking.

For many people, the idea of not working or applying for disability is an absolute last resort. Instead, you might want to consider other ways of working and look for a different job.

If you think you'd like to consider a new career or a different type of job, think about the types of activities that interest you. Then try to envision a dream job. Where would your office be? What kinds of hours would you work? Who would you work with? Talk to career counselors or vocational experts about the types of jobs you might qualify for. Consider getting additional training if necessary. This might be the opportunity for you to create a more ideal work situation.

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