Although there is no set cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, there are things you can do to help beat it.
I should know – I suffered from Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) at the age of 15, struck down by glandular fever and overtraining. Four years later, I recovered and then founded the CFS Health Centre as I felt the need to give other people with CFS the support and guidance I didn’t have. I've subsequently helped hundreds of patients recover from CFS.
Here are my top 10 tips to beat CFS:
1. Don't pretend you're fine. Accept where you're at with your health.
This is a key component of coming to the realization that you need to make changes to your lifestyle and your health for the better. Pretending that you are fine and pushing through is not the answer your body is looking for.
2. Scale back your activities.
Depending on where you are at with your recovery, you need to modify and manage your lifestyle better. Sometimes doing less is more, especially when you are unwell. If you are working fulltime and burning out, or running every day only to be bedridden for weeks, it's time to modify what you're doing and take it down a notch.
3. Remember: you are what you eat.
Food is fuel, what we feed our body with is giving us the energy to function in day to day life. Without water and food we cannot survive and thrive. Keep it simple and consistent. The body loves consistency. Make sure you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Drink plenty of water and choose healthier food options that gives you the fuel you need to be optimal.
4. You have a choice whether to think good or bad, so pick a positive attitude.
We can make something a negative or a positive. My business teacher used to say to me attitude makes altitude. She was right. Work on changing your thought patterns from bad to good no matter the circumstances. Being a victim will only make you feel sad and leave you feeling worse for wear. Just remember there is always someone worse off then you right now.
5. Force yourself to relax.
90% of sufferers are high achievers and over doer’s. They don’t even know what rest means. I was the same, but CFS taught me the importance of rest and relaxation. Not everyone is into meditation. If you are, great, if you find it hard to sit still and be quite, try and find something to do that is calming and relaxing on your mind and body.
6. Be patient: healing takes time.
Be patient and look for the small improvements along the way. Don’t overdo it and try to change things overnight as this will only lead to failure. Be kind to yourself, be your best friend.
7. Be grateful for the things you do have in life.
I used to feel sorry for myself all the time, I remember walking down the street saying to myself why me, why do I have CFS, why can’t I run, etc. as I was in this negative thought, a man in a wheelchair went passed me, he looked up a smiled at me. I turned around to realize that the man in the wheel chair did not have arms or legs. From that day on, I wrote down 10 things I was grateful for each week. Having arms and legs became apparent.
Exercise done in the right way can be of great benefit for our physical and emotional wellbeing. Graded exercise therapy (G.E.T.) is where you perform daily exercises that are low intensity and low impact.
Everyone’s fitness levels vary and when your suffering from chronic fatigue exercise can seem impossible. Forget about hitting the gym for now or going for that long run you used to be able to do. start with something small. It could be as simple as walking one minute per day. As you feel that 1 minute is getting easy, bump it up to 2 minutes and so on.
Small, steady increments should be made to program when your health maintains, meaning you don’t feel any worse than what you did before doing the exercises. Avoid high intensity workouts as this will only lead to crashing and being bedridden, the "Push/Crash Cycle."
9. Goal setting – SMART.
Set specific, measureable, achievable, REALISTIC goals. It might something small like drinking 8 glasses of water in a day. Or something bigger like aiming to get back to school or work within a month. Set small goals to start with and commit to them. This will give you direction and more importantly keep you focused on your priority to better health.
10. Get Support – Suffering from CFS not only affects you physically but emotionally too.
I know because I suffered with anxiety throughout my recovery from CFS. It is okay to be sad and feel down. It is also okay to ask for help and support from family, friends or health professionals. Talking to someone about how you feel can take the weight off your shoulders. We are all human. A little bit of love and care doesn’t hurt anybody.