It’s so important to ensure you still have some sort of life whilst on your journey of recovery from ME/CFS or Burnout; otherwise you risk disappearing into a black hole of sleeping all the time and an increase in symptoms.
But how do you do this, without making your health deteriorate even more?
Well, by listening very carefully to the signs your body gives you as you go.
However, it does take practice and not only that, when you do listen to your body you need to be able to act on what you’re hearing. If something is making you feel worse, you have to stop doing it, if only for a time.
Exercise and Fresh Air
During my recovery years, I would always make sure I got some fresh air and gentle exercise each day but I learnt never to push myself. I built up my physical activity gradually and when I needed to rest I did…but not for too long! It was a balance that took me some time to get right. Obviously, anything that made me feel worse straight away I would stop doing immediately.
It’s always best to start with doing exercise for the least amount of time, even if it’s just 5 minutes, and even if you feel like you could do more. Stick to that for a couple of weeks and then, providing your symptoms never got worse in that time, up it by another 5 minutes for another 2 weeks, and so on and so on.
More importantly, be consistent! Do it every single day and if you miss a day or more, you must start the 2 weeks again. You mustn’t increase your time until you have done a full 2 weeks of that time everyday without suffering.
If you have a task to do that is going to take a lot of mental ability, try not to do anything too physical on the same day, and vice versa. Mental activity is just as draining as physical activity and doing the two together can be overload for someone suffering with ME/CFS or Burnout.
I did have a social life, of course, and although minimal at the height of my suffering it was important to my overall wellbeing. However, I would always make sure I didn’t arrange too much in any one week. If I did have an evening out, I would always make sure I made time to get more rest than normal prior to the event and during the following day or two, and I would ensure that I ate extremely healthily, avoiding any food groups that had a negative effect on my body.
It is often underestimated what getting together with happy, positive people can do for your health. It doesn’t have to mean a tiring evening out with friends; you could meet friends for a coffee (or better still a herbal tea) or take a ‘healthy’ picnic and sit somewhere outdoors amongst nature. You will be amazed at how this can lift your spirits…but make sure it isn’t a needy friend who will drain your energies even more!
Notice how you feel after spending time with different friends. Do you feel drained, during your time with them, immediately afterwards or in the days that follow? Or do you feel energised and happy? Try to avoid the ones who drain you, if only for a short while, and make a point of spending more time with those who make you feel better.
Rest and Restore
As well as getting a good balance with your mental and physical activities it’s just as important to take the time to rest and restore, to replace the excesses of the day and nourish the body and mind. Slumping on the sofa because you’re exhausted is not the most effective way of re-energising you in mind or body; there are better ways.
There are many ways in which we can rest and restore, which calm your mind, reduce stress and help you to be more in tune with your body, which in turn helps you to notice what it might be trying to tell you. These include:
• Deep breathing exercises
• Yoga – as gentle as you need it
• Listening everyday to relaxation Audios – Try plugging in your earphones and listening every morning before you get out of bed and every evening before you go to sleep.
The Right Fuel
Of course, it’s also important to notice how different foods or food types affect your body, and if you notice them having a negative effect avoid them!
Gluten was a real ‘no no’ for me at this time and I cut it out of my diet completely. Although this was a challenge to start with, I did get used to it and felt so much better for doing so. I generally chose not to substitute with gluten-free versions as these are usually highly processed and I found they often contained other ingredients that weren’t good for me either.
So, there are my 4 tips for being able to still have a life whilst suffering from the symptoms of ME/CFS or Burnout, and also supporting you on your journey to recovery rather than increasing a deterioration in your health.
Discover the system I created after recovering from M.E. and years of Burnout