Posted in COVID-19, Educational, Fibromyalgia, Getting social, Guest Speaker, Sharing Circle, Social events, ZOOM

Imagine (all the Zoom Meetings)

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us (online)
And the world will be as one…

Imagine all the people, connecting online…
Living life in peace
. Living life in peace with: Inspire Thursdays: Living Well With Chronic Conditions/Inspire Saturdays: Living Well With Chronic Conditions. As well as: Sharing Circles, Knit Happens!: Therapeutic Knitting (and other crafts), Tuesday Trivia Time!, Tai Chi/Qigong, gentle yoga, speakers, blog posts, Chat Clubs, Soul to Soul Convos…as well as so many other resources.

We’re staying connected, so important, now more than ever – we’re just doing it virtually, instead of in person. We hope you’ll keep in touch.
Reach out.
Stay connected.

Take part in our FREE online activities.

All ZOOM activities are free, courtesy of Fibromyalgia London Group and open to all, especially those with Fibromyalgia, CFS, ME, CRPS, MCS, CSS (Central Sensitivity Syndromes), CRPS, chronic pain/chronic illness, etc. We’re a volunteer-drive, grassroots group who gratefully accept donations, of any size —– via cheque, cash, etransfers – fmgroup.london@gmail.com We have people from around the world dropping by, you should too!

You don’t need a Zoom account to participate, but feel free to get one or download the app. We have an paid account and we’ve taken precautions to make it safe as possible for participants. Each activity is a “respect” zone where we respect each other and enjoy the activity, together. Please also find us and share us (Fibromyalgia London Group) @fmlondongroup on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram! Please, when you register, let us know which activities – you can attend any or all, just let us know which ones to save time and energy — so we can send you the free Zoom link (again, you don’t need a ZOOM account, we have one): Email: fmgroup.london@gmail.com/ or Tel: 519-453-3198

Read, Enjoy, Learn, Share (seriously, seeing isn’t enough, share, please, you don’t know who you will reach, who you will help by simply sharing!) on Social Media –Website: www.fibrolondongroup.ca !!!!! Please, also find us and share us (Fibromyalgia London Group) @fmlondongroup on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

NEW DATE!!! Mondays in 2021

B2C2 (Brown Bag Chat Club) ~~ 1pm Monday January 4th, 2021 and 1pm Monday January 18th, 2021. Where we chat, laugh, recommend, discuss, learn about: movies, streaming, TV, books, ebooks, e-audio, pets, card games, computer games, video games, board games, crafts, gardening, Tai Chi, Qigong, knitting, YouTube, yoga, camping, TED Talks, podcasts, drawing, hobbies, writing, blogging, sewing, volunteering, music, fishing, hiking, painting, and more! 1pm Monday January 4th, 2021 and 1pm Monday January 18th, 2021.

Drop by and chat about things that distract us from pain and fatigue and all the bad stuff, but please, if you wish to discuss chronic illness, join us at one or more of our monthly Sharing Circles, Thursday/Saturday and/or email us questions or ask questions on social media (direct message if you wish it to remain private). This time is to escape our pain, worries, etc. 1pm Monday January 4th, 2021 and 1pm Monday January 18th, 2021.

Tuesdays in 2020 and 2021

Tuesday Trivia Time (TTT) ~~~~~ You get your 1st Trivia point, it’s on Tuesday! Join us 1pm Tuesday December 29th, 2020 – “Special Edition: Saying Goodbye to 2020 and Hello to 2021!!! To Better Days Ahead!” ~~~~~ Prizes available! FREE! 1pm Tuesday January 12th, 2021 and 1pm Tuesday January 19th, 2021.

PARTY ALERT!!!

We’ve got you covered! Wednesday December 30th, 2020 ~~~ Please, join us for the goodbye to 2020 and Hello to 2021 New Year’s Eve Eve/Birthday Virtual Party!!!

Wednesdays in January 2021 – Qigong with new instructor, Ron Hicks

Wednesdays/Weekly at 1pm 2021 – Wednesday January 6th, 2021 1pm; Wednesday January 13th, 2021 1pm; Wednesday January 20th, 2021 1pm; Wednesday January 27th, 2021 1pm. “The ancient Chinese art of Qigong, closely related to Tai Chi, promotes health and wellness mentally, and physically by following 3 principles: Using the mind , proper breathing and slow movements. I will teach some basic exercises which can be done standing or sitting. Each class will end with a short guided meditation.” Instructor: Ron Hicks. Please check with your physician before starting any exercise program. 1pm Wednesday January 6th, 2021; 1pm Wednesday January 13th, 2021; 1pm Wednesday January 20th, 2021; 1pm Wednesday January 27th, 2021.

Thursdays in January 2021

Thursdays at 1pm bi-weekly – Knit Happens! (therapeutic knitting and other crafts shared in a group – new or an expert or something in between, join us). FREE! No knitting (you can still enjoy at home, Santa probably needs some new socks!) December 24th, 2020 (Christmas Eve) – Happy Holidays! We’ll pick up this stitch in 2021! 1pm Thursday January 14th, 2021 and 1pm Thursday January 28th, 2021 at 1pm.

NEW – Inspire Thursdays: Living Well With Chronic Conditions !!! – Speakers, videos, information sessions about chronic illnesses, resources, how to overcome challenges, learn about how to live well with a chronic condition, etc. 1pm Thursday January 7th, 2021 ~~~~ “How To Save Money While Living Well with Chronic Illness” ~~~ Presentation will include tips, tricks, hacks, many ways to save you more money in 2021!

Weekday Sharing Circle Sessions — Sharing resources, information, stories, ideas, company, and hope at 1pm Thursday January 21st, 2021.

Fridays in January 2021

Bi-weekly Gentle Yoga/Breathwork/Meditation w/ Andrea Pearson on 1pm Friday January 8th, 2021 and Friday January 22nd, 2021. FREE! A break for December and then back again in 2021!!! 1pm Friday January 8th, 2021 and Friday January 22nd, 2021. Please consult with your physician before starting any new exercise regime.

NEW! Men’s Online Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Support Group 1pm Fridayday January 15th, 2021 – Register at : fmgroup.london@gmail.com or call 519-453-3198 and we’ll send you a free and safe Zoom link!!!

Soul to Soul Convo 1pm Friday January 29th, 2021 (for FLG Members only). Discussing spirituality, hope, love, peace, caring, change, philosophy, meditation, mindfulness, motivation, courage, spiritual harmony, spiritual activism, kindness and so much more. So join the Soul to Soulers, take a break from the chaos of the world, turn off your devices (except the device you’re using to access Zoom lol), turn off social media, the news, and tune into to your inner calm.

Saturdays in January 2021

Inspire Saturdays: Living Well with Chronic Conditions 1pm Saturdays bi-monthly.

Sharing Circle Saturdays bi-monthly — starting 2021 off right by talk to that understands. Who really understands. Others say they get it. We really get it. Also sharing resources, tips, tricks, life hacks, hope and laughter. Saturday January 9th, 2021.

Register so we can send you the free Zoom link (you don’t need a ZOOM account, we have one): Email: fmgroup.london@gmail.com ~ or Tel: 519-453-3198

Read our blog pots, our social media offerings, enjoy, learn, then please, Share on Social Media ~~ Website: www.fibrolondongroup.ca Please also find us and share us (Fibromyalgia London Group) @fmlondongroup on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

Since the beginning of this historic, horrible pandemic, a lot of things have changed,especially with Fibromyalgia London Group, but a lot has stayed the same. Our commitment to staying connected has stayed the same.

Our commitment to being there for each other. Our commitment to supporting ourselves by helping others.
None of that has changed.

Fibromyalgia London Group (we also welcome anyone with CFS, ME, chronic pain and/or fatigue) is a extremely dedicated, active grassroots, volunteer-driven organization, but we need help…not just with donations, but help with support, volunteering, ideas, connecting to resources/information, sharing our information on social media and to family, friends, other groups, etc. Sharing is caring and you never know who you will help.

Posted in Blog posts, COVID-19, Educational, Fibromyalgia, Guest Speaker

A “Grounding Technique” to Decrease #Worry During These Uncertain Times

“A ‘grounding technique’ to decrease worry during these uncertain times” by guest blogger and Fibromyalgia London Group member, Dr. Rhonda Gilby, mother of two daughters with Fibromyalgia, and clinical psychologist for over 30 years, helping people cope with the various problems that they are experiencing. Rhonda has taught psychology courses at Western University (UWO) and its affiliates, worked with troubled children and provided psychological counselling to University students. Dr. Gilby recognizes that “it’s not always easy” and writes about how findings and ideas from the field of psychology can be applied to help everyone to cope better in their day-to-day lives.

Managing Uncertainty in Product Development - ProductCoalition.com

Life is full of uncertainty, and the current pandemic has only added to that uncertainty. We are unsure of what is going to happen. When will be out of this lockdown situation? Will there be enough tests, enough food? What will happen with our finances and the economy? Will I and my loved ones stay healthy? As human beings, we crave security. We want to feel safe and have a sense of control over our lives and well-being. Fear and uncertainty can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, and powerless.

Whereas most species are stressed by threats and dangers as they are occurring, our species can also be stressed by potential dangers that MAY lie in the future (but MAY NOT). We may go over the situation in our mind , imagining everything that might go wrong (catastrophizing), and worrying about how we might handle it. We begin to dwell in that future experience, which can interfere with what we our able to accomplish at the present time.

Imagine that someone comes to you, requesting some money from you. You ask them what the money’s for.  They tell you, it’s the interest you need to pay on a loan that you MAY take out in the future. You tell them that you haven’t borrowed any money from them. But you might, they say, you could owe me money in the future.  Would you pay them the interest?

It’s very similar with worry. Worry is the interest you pay in advance on a debt you may never owe. The thing that you’re worrying about may never happen. You’re wasting important mental energy on something that may never happen, when your energy would be better spent in preparing for what needs to be done now.

So what can you do so that you don’t worry as much. One helpful tip is to return your mind to the present.  That’s where you should be focused. Worry is, by definition, about the future, so placing your attention on the present is a powerful way to reduce your worries. One straightforward way to do this is called “grounding”.

Grounding brings you back to the here-and-now, helping you to let go of the worry, calm down and bring your focus to what’s happening right now. Grounding techniques often use the five senses—sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight—to immediately bring all your attention to the present moment. Hold a favourite object in your hand and notice all the details about it, blast your favourite song and really listen to it, massage your temples and notice how it feels, smell a perfume or lotion that you enjoy, taste a piece of chocolate slowly melting in your mouth. Through these actions, you are strongly engaging with the present.

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique

Another commonly used grounding technique makes use of all five senses at the same time. It is called the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. It starts with you sitting comfortably, closing your eyes and taking a couple of deep calming breaths (in slowly through your nose, hold, out slowly through your mouth, hold). Imagine letting your worry go. Now open your eyes and look around you.

5 senses

Find 5 things around you that you can see.

Notice 4 things that you can feel right now.

Listen for 3 things that you can hear.

Find 2 things that you can smell.

Notice 1 taste in your mouth (maybe put something in there to taste).

Then, finish with a deep breath.

By re-focusing on your body and what you’re physically feeling, you get out of your head and divert your mind away from anxious thoughts about the future.  Now that you are back to the present, you can focus on what it is that you need to be doing right now. Like any other skill, if you practice grounding techniques initially when you are calm, they will be more available to use when get caught up in your worries.

Take care, and don’t let your mind run away with worries during this difficult time.

Dr. Rhonda Gilby is the mother of two daughters with Fibromyalgia, and has been a clinical psychologist for over 30 years, helping people cope with the various problems that they are experiencing. She’s taught psychology courses at Western University and its affiliates, worked with troubled children and provided psychological counselling to University students. She recognizes that “it’s not always easy” and writes about how findings and ideas from the field of psychology can be applied to help everyone to cope better in their day-to-day lives. Contact/Connect: ngilby@rogers.com

Posted in Blog posts, COVID-19, Educational, Fibromyalgia

Some Tips for Coping During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Some Tips for Coping During the Covid-19 Pandemic” by guest blogger and Fibromyalgia London Group member, Dr. Rhonda Gilby, mother of two daughters with Fibromyalgia, and clinical psychologist for over 30 years, helping people cope with the various problems that they are experiencing. Rhonda has taught psychology courses at Western University (UWO) and its affiliates, worked with troubled children and provided psychological counselling to University students. Dr. Gilby recognizes that “it’s not always easy” and writes about how findings and ideas from the field of psychology can be applied to help everyone to cope better in their day-to-day lives.

To say that these are unprecedented times is an understatement!  Living through a pandemic is something that very few people today have any experience with, and facing a crisis of this magnitude with little knowledge or understanding of what is required of us undoubtedly can lead to many difficult feelings – fear, sadness, anxiety, exhaustion. These kinds of painful emotions are natural at a time like this. It’s important that you give yourself permission to be human! We are all feeling unsettled under the present circumstances. That’s normal. Be kind to yourself.

Many of us are feeling worried. Worry is not necessarily a bad thing, if it leads you to engage in activities that help keep you safe. But worrying about things that are out of your control only forces your mind to dwell on difficulties, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and wasting your valuable emotional energy. For things that are outside of your control, worry is not going to make a difference or solve any problems. Figure out how to let those worries go.

Instead, realistically focus on those things that you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy – and there are many. Wash your hands frequently, stay home as much as possible, maintain appropriate physical distancing when out, and wear a mask. Stay connected with others remotely (the Fibromyalgia London Group is doing an excellent job of creating opportunities for staying in touch with other people and providing occasions for social interaction). Make sure that you are getting both physical and mental exercise. Fill your days with lots of activities that you enjoy. Add structure into your day – perhaps you want to maintain a regular wake up time and bedtime or add some rituals to your day (e.g. a specific morning routine, a definite time for reading or exercising, etc.). Limit the amount of news that you are exposing yourself to and make sure that you are only using reputable news sources.                                                  

We don’t have to be at the mercy of our negative feelings. There are many things that we can do to lessen painful emotions and cope more comfortably as we all progress through this difficult pandemic journey.   

I’m a clinical psychologist. One type of therapy that frequently makes a lot of sense to me is cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Cognitive behaviour therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts and beliefs about a situation affect how we feel about it, and what we subsequently do about it. This means that the same event can produce very different reactions in different people, depending upon how they think about and interpret the experience. When thoughts about a situation change, emotions can change, too.  Even a small shift in the way that you think about a situation can have a big impact on how you feel.   

We all talk to ourselves, sometimes out loud, most often in our heads, and that’s perfectly natural. In fact, self-talk can help us to understand and organize our experiences, to plan, to learn, to think through problems to find a solution. But it’s important to pay attention to what it is that we are saying to ourselves. Not all of the conversations we have with ourselves are helpful. While positive self-talk can increase our confidence and positive mood, when self-talk is negative, it becomes unhelpful, and can have a very negative impact on how we feel.

A number of unhelpful thinking styles (also referred to as cognitive distortions) have been identified by psychiatrists and psychologists. One common, unhelpful thinking style that has been identified is called “catastrophizing”. Catastrophizing refers to worrying about and imagining worst case outcomes of situations, expecting terrible consequences, and believing that you won’t be able to cope.

Letting your thoughts spiral out of control like this is not helpful. Replacing these negative thoughts with more realistic, more reasonable thoughts is a much better way to live.  So, how do you do that?

Start by paying attention to what you are saying to yourself. Often, we are unaware of our thoughts. Figure out “What am I thinking right now?, What am I saying to myself that is upsetting me? What bad thing do I expect to happen?”

Remember that catastrophic thinking is just your guess (usually wrong) about what will happen, and not a certainty. Negative thoughts, beliefs and expectations are not facts, and are often not accurate.

Remember that there is a difference between possibility and probability. For example, yes, it is possible that you or your loved one may become ill with the coronavirus, but the probability is quite low. Don’t upset yourself worrying about things that probably won’t happen.

Evaluate the evidence for and against your thought. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. “How likely is it that this will happen?”.  “What’s most likely to happen?”. “Is there another way of looking at this, one that won’t leave me feeling as stressed?”. Use logical thinking. Try to find facts, as opposed to relying on guesses and exaggerated beliefs.  Perhaps voicing your fears to someone you trust will help you to gain a more realistic perspective.

Look for more realistic ways to think about the outcome of the situation you’re in – something less extreme, something that is more likely to happen.  Outcomes in life typically fall somewhere in the middle – not black or white, but shades of gray. Ask yourself “Is there another, more realistic thought that I can have that is a more likely outcome and won’t make me feel so upset.”.  For example, instead of thinking, “This is terrible – this will never end, things will never be normal again, I can’t stand it anymore”, a less extreme thought might be, “These are difficult times and the world may never quite be the same, but this will end and I will cope with whatever is to come, just as I have with all of the things that life has thrown at me in the past.”.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 illness is certainly serious and it is appropriate and necessary to take it seriously. But catastrophizing does not help us to cope. Be on the lookout for self-talk that involves catastrophizing, and challenge this unhelpful self-talk when it occurs.  It may take practice and time because catastrophizing can be a habit for some. You can choose to work on a more positive, more realistic and less stress-inducing way to talk to yourself.

Dr. Rhonda Gilby is the mother of two daughters with Fibromyalgia, and has been a clinical psychologist for over 30 years, helping people cope with the various problems that they are experiencing. She’s taught psychology courses at Western University and its affiliates, worked with troubled children and provided psychological counselling to University students. She recognizes that “it’s not always easy” and writes about how findings and ideas from the field of psychology can be applied to help everyone to cope better in their day-to-day lives. Contact/Connect: ngilby@rogers.com

Posted in Educational, Fibromyalgia

IT’S NOT ALWAYS EASY: COPING TIPS FROM PSYCHOLOGY – Which Wolf Are You Feeding?

“Which wolf are you feeding?” By guest blogger and Fibromyalgia London Group member, Dr. Rhonda Gilby, mother of two daughters with Fibromyalgia, and clinical psychologist for over 30 years, helping people cope with the various problems that they are experiencing. Rhonda has taught psychology courses at Western University (UWO) and its affiliates, worked with troubled children and provided psychological counselling to University students. Dr. Gilby recognizes that “it’s not always easy” and writes about how findings and ideas from the field of psychology can be applied to help everyone to cope better in their day-to-day lives.

“Which wolf are you feeding?”

Most people occasionally have thoughts that are unpleasant, worrisome or critical, and those with Fibromyalgia are certainly no exception, quite possibly experiencing even more of these thoughts than others. These thoughts, of course, make us feel bad. When such thoughts occur, despite knowing that they are not helpful, we may feel powerless to control them. There is a conflict between how those thoughts make us feel, and how we would like to be feeling.

This conflict is well-represented in the fable about two wolves. Although there is some question about the origins of this tale, it frequently has been referred to as a Native American legend. One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is negativity, it’s anger, sadness, stress, contempt, disgust, fear, embarrassment, guilt, shame and hate. The other is positivity. It’s joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and above all, love.”
The little boy thought about it for a while and asked his grandfather, ”Well which wolf wins?” And the grandfather answered, “The one you feed.”

The parable is really about where we focus our attention. It seems that, in general, people tend to spend more time focusing on negative experiences in life than focusing on what is good. In psychology, this is referred to as the “negativity bias”. It is considered to have evolved for a good reason—to keep us out of harm’s way. In our evolutionary past, our survival depended a lot more on our ability to recognize danger than on our ability to notice the positive. Not noticing a lion waiting in the grass could end your life. Not noticing a field of ripe, wild fruit that you are passing may just leave you hungry for a while longer.
According to clinical psychologist, Rick Hanson, negative stimuli produce more activity in the brain than do equally intense positive stimuli. We have become wired to pay more attention to negative information, and we perceive it more easily and more quickly. Apparently, the brain is good at learning from bad experiences but bad at learning from good experiences. So, many of our good experiences may feel good in the moment, without having any lasting value. “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positives ones.”

Nowadays, having a constant negativity bias is no longer necessary for our survival, and, in fact, increases our stress levels and makes it more difficult for us to cope. Can we train our brains for more positivity? Can we start feeding the more positive wolf? Do we get a choice? According to the most recent neuroscientific evidence, the answer is “YES”. According to Hanson, who calls this “taking in the good”, there are things that we can do to begin to feed the good wolf. Hanson recommends the following three steps to overcome negativity bias:

  1. Look for good facts, and turn them into good experiences. For example, let yourself feel good if you get something done, or if someone is nice to you, or if you notice a positive feature about yourself.
  2. Take time (at least 20 to 30 seconds) to pay attention and enjoy good experiences. Don’t just let a positive experience quickly pass. Making positive sensations last longer, solidifies them in our long-term memory.
  3. Focus on and let yourself sense the feelings of those good experiences as they are sinking into you. Imagine that positivity spreading through your body, like a warm glow spreading within you. While you hold the good experience in your awareness, it can become hard-wired into your brain.
    According to Hanson, “Any single time you do this will make only a little difference. But over time those little differences will add up, gradually weaving positive experiences into the fabric of your brain and your self.”

I know that this is certainly not a quick fix, and that looking for the good” is not going to be the remedy for all of our problems. In fact, changing our focus can be harder than it sounds, and making a change in the way we look at our world can take a lot of mental work. But I also know that we don’t have to be at the mercy of a built-in negativity bias that really doesn’t help us anymore. Although we may be struggling with those nasty symptoms that Fibromyalgia has thrown at us, it can be well worth the effort to work to find and focus on those good experiences (e.g., time with our loved ones, a caring FM community, a sunny day or a delicious meal, to name just a few) that are also a part of our lives.
So take care, have an awesome day, and remember to feed the good wolf!

Dr. Rhonda Gilby is the mother of two daughters with Fibromyalgia, and has been a clinical psychologist for over 30 years, helping people cope with the various problems that they are experiencing.  She has taught psychology courses at Western University and its affiliates, worked with troubled children and provided psychological counselling to University students.  She recognizes that “it’s not always easy” and writes about how findings and ideas from the field of psychology can be applied to help everyone to cope better in their day-to-day lives. Contact/Connect: ngilby@rogers.com