9 May 2023

To mark World Fibromyalgia Awareness Day on 12 May, we look at ways that mindfulness scan help to manage the immobilising condition which affects many men and women worldwide.

Person holding Fibromyalgia purple ribbon badge

Fibromyalgia and Mindfulness

Life with a long-term condition can be a lot to come to terms with. Although treatment for fibromyalgia is available, symptoms are unlikely to disappear completely so self-management can be an important factor in living with the condition. Fibromyalgia has also been found to create anxiety around the uncertainties that it holds and the risk to future health.

Mindfulness is a chosen self-management option for many, who find it a helpful way to manage mental and emotional reactions to pain, exhaustion and related anxiety and poor mental health that can arise with a long-term health condition. 

How does Mindfulness Help Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is characterised by persistent pain and tenderness in various parts of the body. Research shows that mindfulness-based interventions can have significant reductions in pain severity and improvements in physical functioning [4]. 

Mindfulness can support the management of the musculoskeletal condition through other ways including:

1. Reducing depression and poor mental health. 

While fibromyalgia primarily manifests as chronic widespread pain, fatigue, and other physical symptoms, it can also have a significant impact on a person's mental well-being, potentially leading to or exacerbating depression. Meanwhile, living with constant pain can be physically and emotionally draining, affecting one's quality of life and overall mood.

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to significantly improve this and even show a significant reduction in depressive symptoms [1] . Another study found that after participating in mindfulness training, fibromyalgia patients demonstrated a 13% increase in anger control and up to a 27% reduction in depression and anxiety[2]

2. Acceptance of yourselfMindfulness has been shown to change the way people relate to their pain. A study showed that people who practiced mindfulness were less likely to demonstrate avoidant and hypervigilance behaviour which can lead to resistance and extra tension in the body which in turn amplifies felt sensations of pain. This supports the idea that mindfulness encourages a non-judgemental and accepting relationship with pain, rather than trying to push it away [3]. 

3. Learning how to pace. Pacing is an important tool for managing your day to day life with a long-term health condition, especially if you experience fatigue like many who have fibromyalgia. Taking a break before you need one and managing your day in a way that’s supportive and realistic can help to prevent burnout and flare-ups. The art of pacing is taught as part of the Breathworks Mindfulness for Health course, which people with fibromyalgia have told us they have benefited from. 

4. Regulating the nervous system. Another key teachings on our Mindfulness for Health course is how to regulate the nervous system with the breath and mindful movement. Awareness of the breath and some gentle movements help many to calm stress responses and re-connect with their bodies which they can feel disconnected from after years of struggling with pain and discomfort. 

5. Feeling less isolated. Those living with specific conditions can often feel distant and isolated from others and the world. Many have told us that the meaningful connections they form on our courses and in our community have helped them to feel less lonely. Our Community of Practice is a mindfulness platform for like-minded individuals looking to connect with other on their mindfulness journey. Sign up for free today. 

The Course Changed My Life - Julie's Story 

"By trying to live in the moment, in a mindful way, I now recognise that my physical condition is only part of my overall experience in any given moment. There is so much more to my life than just the pain. Furthermore, I have learned that I have a choice about responding rather than reacting to my pain. I have found that it is possible to differentiate between how I physically am in any one moment, and how I feel emotionally. I can therefore be in a great deal of pain but at the same time experience a deep sense of being well in myself. My physical condition has not changed but my experience of it has".

Read Julie's full story here

Interested in trying mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a life-long practice and in order to create new positive behavioural patterns and habits, the recommended length of learning is 8 weeks. The way that we delver that is trough our popular Mindfulness for Health course which is run in live online sessions and led by an experienced trainer. The course is suitable for beginners, and those wishing to explore how mindfulness can be specifically tailored to those living with pain and illness.  

View our upcoming dates and book your place here.


[1] Sephton et al. (2007). Mindfulness meditation alleviates depressive symptoms in women with fibromyalgia: results of a randomised clinical trial. 

[2] Amutio et al. (2015). Mindfulness training for reducing anger, anxiety, and depression in fibromyalgia patients.

[3] Vago & Nakamura. (2011). Selective attentional bias towards pain-related threat in fibromyalgia: preliminary evidence for effects of mindfulness meditation training.

[4] Lauche et al. (2013). A systematic review and meta-analysis of mindfulness-based stress reduction for the fibromyalgia syndrome.

Through our Mindfulness for Health course, book and online courses, time and time again we have seen that fibromyalgia is a condition that responds well to mindfulness.  Breathworks partnered in research recently that showed that regular practice of mindfulness can be beneficial for anyone living with a long-term condition such as fibromyalgia.