Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has developed and you are feeling extremely tired all the time. Fatigue is the main symptom marking this illness. It is important to recognize that you DO have an illness, but to also maintain a positive outlook knowing that you can recover.
Until recently there was some stigma attached to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Years ago it was referred to as “Yuppy Flu” and people were accused of just being lazy and unmotivated, or making an excuse not to work hard.
Lacking the motivation to begin an activity, or feeling fatigued shortly after you begin, can lead to feelings of frustration with yourself. Your mindset in acknowledging this as an illness and not falling into thinking patterns such as “what’s wrong with me, I need to get motivated” or “I’m just being lazy” is an important step to your recovery.
Constantly trying to push yourself when your energy reserves are in a depleted state will only worsen the situation.
Outwardly you may still be able to function semi normally and most people will think that you are OK. Only you will know that you are feeling extremely tired all the time and are not able to function normally 100% of the time.
Your social life will be in decline and possibly your work life too as you struggle with inadequate mental and physical energy to do everything you normally do.
One of the reasons you don’t have enough energy and are feeling extremely tired all the time is that you may have a sleep deficit caused by your inability to stay asleep throughout the entire night.
As your adrenal function is disrupted and cortisol spikes at inappropriate times, it causes a change in the normal energy rhythms of your body.
Waking regularly at around 3 am, too wired to return to sleep, results in regularly having only four or five hours of sleep a night, and eventually, this pattern of not getting enough sleep takes its toll on your body.
Some nutritional supplements that can help support adrenal function include Vitamin C and Vitamin B5.
You are exhausted at a cellular level and your mitochondrial function could be impaired. This means that your body simply cannot produce enough energy to get you through a normal day’s activity. It is important to manage your activities and ensure you are not pushing yourself beyond your body’s available energy reserves.
It is vitally important to learn what your personal energy limits are and not keep pushing yourself. On a cellular level, your body simply cannot produce the energy you need.
Post-exertional fatigue can mean that in order to recoup your energy to almost functional levels you will need to rest or stay in bed for a day or maybe longer. If you keep pushing yourself beyond your limit you will be on a constant roller coaster between feeling almost normal then crashing and having to stay in bed to recuperate.
To avoid these energy crashes you need to stay within your ‘energy envelope’.
Think of an energy envelope as having the following elements:
- Available Energy – It is limited depending on your current condition, and you replenish it with food and rest.
- Expended Energy – This is the energy your body uses through physical, mental and emotional exertion.
- Energy used by your symptoms – Fatigue, body aches and pains, brain fog etc.
Once you start to understand the concept of the energy envelope and recognize what your limits are, it will become easier to stay within the limits of your energy availability.
In this way, you can reduce your symptoms and the number of energy crashes you have. Finally, you can get off the constant roller coaster.
As you begin to recover and your symptoms decrease you may be able to slowly expend more energy whilst still staying within your personal energy envelope.
It is a very slow and gradual process as you are on the road to recovery. Be patient and work with your body in its current condition.
Depending on how far you have progressed into your illness you may not be able to exercise at all. You may be almost bedridden and even walking from your bed to the toilet will seriously deplete your energy.
For those of you who are fortunate enough to be able to exercise, you need to stay within your energy envelope with both the type and intensity of exercise you do.
However high-energy exercise like running, aerobics, cycling, etc., will only deplete your energy further. The high you experience due to the adrenalin spike you get from this type of exercise will make you feel temporarily better but will be followed by a crash as you push yourself past your current available energy limits.
Gentle exercise is what you need at this stage. Restorative yoga, Thai chi, gentle walking, or swimming are some suggestions. Start with only 20 minutes if you can manage it and increase the time gradually if you have no ill effects. Find some simple and effective yoga poses here.
Some people will need to start with only 5 minutes of gentle exercise and gradually increase it as you are able. The important point is to stay within your energy envelope and not be tempted to push too hard.
You’ll know if you have overdone it as you will suffer a crash. Don’t be discouraged, rest up until you recover, then try again and this time aims for a shorter duration.
To start down the road to recovery you need to first acknowledge that you are ill. The pesky tiredness and fatigue you feel won’t disappear simply with a few good nights’ sleep.
Managing your energy within your energy envelope is vital to avoid crashes and help your body to recover. Rest when you need to and do not push yourself past your current energy limits.
Some good-quality nutritional supplements will help normalize sleep patterns and improve cellular energy.
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