Many people are living with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It’s a disorder of extreme fatigue or tiredness. A person with CFS can rest more often for months, but the fatigue never goes away. Living with chronic fatigue interrupts your daily activities. Even the smallest thing can become insurmountable in the most severe cases.
A diagnosis can be hard to make when the cause is unknown. A doctor will examine a patient to rule out any underlying medical conditions. If a patient experiences severe fatigue for about 6 months with bed rest not helping at all, then they may be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Here are some strategies you can use to help manage your chronic fatigue syndrome on a daily basis.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Everyone has days where they feel tired. But people with CFS don’t just feel tired. They live with extreme exhaustion that won’t go away. Unfortunately, doing any physical or mental activity can make their CFS symptoms worse. When that happens, they usually have to rest even longer than they normally do.
If someone with CFS sleeps for 12 hours at night, they still wake up feeling exhausted. They never feel refreshed.
People with CFS who don’t get enough sleep could find that their tiredness worsens and it could delay their recovery. Getting at least 8 – 9 hours of sleep every night is a good goal to set. Sometimes having naps help as well. But if it makes it harder to sleep at night, then avoid naps.
Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking which could cause insomnia and disrupt your sleeping patterns. It’s best to work on developing a good sleep routine.
2. Change Up Your Diet
CFS is a debilitating condition of extreme fatigue. A quick “pick-me-up” cup of coffee often won’t do the trick.
There need to be more studies done on how diet can affect a person with CFS. But it has been found that a good, healthy balanced diet can boost your energy.
Here are some healthy tips you can follow:
- Stay away from inflammatory foods like sugar and processed foods.
- Drink plenty of water. It’s good to stay hydrated even if this isn’t a cure.
- Eat plenty of non-starchy colorful vegetables.
- Include healthy fats like walnuts and avocados.
There is no standard diet for people with CFS, so it’s a good thing to experiment with certain foods to see if anything affects you for better or worse. It’s important to listen to your body and see how you feel after eating certain foods.
All in all, stick to eating a healthy, balanced diet with whole foods. Try to eat more of the foods that boost your natural energy levels.
3. Have Patience with Yourself
For some people, CFS can last for years. There is no quick-fix solution. Many people with CFS work as hard as possible to try and get better.
Even though it’s hard to manage all the negative emotions and feelings you can go through, it’s best to try and be patient and gracious with yourself. Try journaling, meditating, or finding a counseling group to support you. It’s hard to make lifestyle changes on your own when you have CFS.
Be thankful for the good things in your life and believe that you will recover. Try to build your optimism muscles and believe you have the ability to get better.
4. Add Restorative Exercise
Exercise may be the last thing someone with CFS would want to do, but it’s one of the therapies that actually helps. But the recommendations for someone living with chronic fatigue are much different than for the general population.
For example, instead of going for a 30-minute walk every day, someone with CFS would take a 10-minute walk, (or less), a few times a week. They would then evaluate how they felt and when they were ready they could increase the length of time.
This is known as Graded Exercise Therapy (GET).
Whichever activity you choose (yoga, walking, or stretching), you should always start with low doses and build up slowly over time. The goal is to exercise to a point where you don’t become completely exhausted after a session.
5. Rely on Your Support System
You want to be around people and professionals who will support you through your recovery time. Everyone you are with daily or weekly should know about your condition and be aware of how it affects you.
If you have a thorough knowledge of CFS you will be able to manage it better and you’ll be able to educate those around you and help them know how they can support you.
Be sure to try and find doctors and health workers who can suggest ways to manage CFS as well.
The symptoms of CFS can range from mild to severe. Living with chronic fatigue every day can be very challenging, at whichever level of the disease you are experiencing.
Because CFS progresses differently in everyone, be sure to work with your doctor to come up with a plan to help you get better, and meet your needs.