ME/CFS And Listening To Your Body

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Coach, Trainer and former sufferer of ME/CFS and fibromyalgia Simon Pimenta explores the issue of listening to your body and intuition  and will look explore dealing with symptoms of fatigue when you are experiencing ME/CFS.

How good are you at listening to your body?

When should we listen to our body, and when should we not?

 

 “OMG. I am so tired, I just want to stay in bed.”

This is a big topic to cover in an article. When I work with a client, a lot of time is spent exploring the science of the factors that may cause ME/CFS that we may be able to influence. So I am going to aim to cover a few key points.

If you are feeling exhausted, is the extreme exhaustion a daily pattern, or are you feeling particularly fatigued today? If it is a daily pattern, then there may be some issues that need to be addressed, which is beyond the scope of this article.

However, in my report ‘ME/CFS Essential Information’, I share the work of a Stanford University Professor, who offers explanations for lack of energy, poor sleep, suppressed immune function and more, and the report may give you insight into the factors that may be affecting you.  You can sign up for it on the homepage here

If you’d like a brief summary of how the fight or flight affects energy production and storage, immune function, etc, have a read of this article (part 1)  ME/CFS: Dealing With A Relapse  then come back to this article.

Once you have read this article, you may want to consider:

What has been going on in the last few days/week(s)/month(s) that may have contributed to you feeling this extreme fatigue?

Often when I work with people, they don’t always connect up the fatigue with the stress that has been present.

Similarly, when they are feeling better, they don’t realise that it may be because they have been in a more relaxed state.

I had a session with a client recently, who was experiencing extreme symptoms, and on the day we spoke, she said that she had started feeling much improved. She identified that this was because she was feeling optimistic about recovering from the relapse.

If you are feeling particularly fatigued on any particular day, it may be that you have no choice and you feel that have to get up, for whatever reason: you have a child to attend to, or have a commitment.

If this is the case, then it’s important to consider how you can best conserve your energy. It may be that the thought of having to get up and do whatever you have to do results in you feeling anxious or frustrated.

Energy Conservation

Listening to your body might mean actually acknowledging these feelings and addressing them. How do you do that? When I work with clients, this is something we focus on in detail. An abbreviated outline follows:

  1. Recognise that what you’re feeling is a result of some thinking. You may not be consciously aware of the thinking, so you may need to guess. Ask your self “What might I be saying to myself that results in these feelings of anxiety?”
  2. Perhaps you are saying to yourself “Doing X is going to make me feel worse”. Of course, if we do the activity whilst feeling anxious, then we will probably feel worse than if we did that activity in a state of calm.
  3. Decide what would be more useful to be saying to yourself. You might decide to reassure yourself that you can do this activity and that you will survive/be ok.
  4. Consider that approaching things in a calm, relaxed manner can make a significant difference. We might not notice what difference it makes straight away. However clients and I have experienced that approaching things in this way has resulted in feeling significantly better later on in the day.

TLC

If you don’t need to get up, then consider whether you can take it easy today. Have a lie in, or have breakfast and then go and have a prolonged rest once you have digested our breakfast.

Some people with ME/CFS will say “I do this already”. Yet I have worked with clients who don’t cut themselves any slack, and don’t feel they can allow themselves a day off. They feel that they should be ‘doing stuff’, ticking jobs off the ‘to do’ list.

Or if they decide to take it easy, then they don’t relax. They lie in bed feeling annoyed/stressed etc. This is not going to facilitate healing. So  make sure that you are actually in a relaxed state.

Do not underestimate the power of relaxation. I would suggest that there have been times when you have felt improvement in your health because you got yourself into a relaxed state, psychologically and physiologically.

When we are in a deeply relaxed state, the parasympathetic nervous system (PN) is activated, there are number of benefits, including the immune system functions properly and the body creates and stores energy. (I talk more about the benefits in my free report, and share simple relaxation strategies).

I have a friend who is in good health. She sometimes spends the whole day in bed once in a while. She feels that that is what her body needs. So if that is the behaviour of a healthy person, is it reasonable for you to do the same?

In Closing

In this article, I have shared 2 core strategies;

  1. Doing what we can to conserve our energy if we have to be active
  2. Cultivating energy through TLC and relaxation.

Comment

Do leave a comment on how useful you found this article or strategies you use to deal with symptoms. I am interested in your thoughts!

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1. Identifying the challenges you are dealing with
2. Setting achievable goals
3. Identifying what may get in the way of you achieving your goals.

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simonSIMON PIMENTA is a hypnotherapist, coach and trainer working with people to boost resilience and performance, and minimise stress. After working in a demanding job as the Director of a Housing Trust, he went off sick and remained unable to work for the next 8 years. He discovered a pioneering approach to resolving health issues and quickly got back his health, and now trains others using these same techniques, to help them become happier, healthier and achieve their goals.

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6 Responses to ME/CFS And Listening To Your Body

  1. Heidi says:

    Thank you Simon for this incredibly insightful and helpful article. After working with you, I’ve become much better about noticing when I say things to myself that are unhelpful (e.g. “I have to…with a demanding attitude towards myself). It has really helped to change my tone to realize what I want to do, am grateful to have the opportunity to do, and to cut myself some slack (i.e., set more realistic daily goals, and congratulate myself on what I accomplish). I have also found it very helpful to establish a “balanced day” plan that purposefully builds in fun activities, and while I am still healing, to give myself permission to prioritize these activities over anything else on days that I’m not feeling like doing work (and/or minimizing work, telling myself “Ok, I’ll just do a little work and then I’ll enjoy X…”). I’ve begun to see my path right now as purposefully tilted towards enjoyment since it was out of whack before – a time to build my body’s trust again that I will live a balanced and enjoyable life. I think that, as you say, our bodies know how we feel and take it very much into account!

    • Simon Simon says:

      That’s great to hear Heidi. Balance and trust are key. I think a lot of people underestimate the impact of being kind to ourselves.

  2. caroline says:

    Thank you Simon, I think this is a very readable blog about listening to your body. I tend to agree with you about examining the ‘state’ you are in, so often we dont and then wonder why we are feeling exhausted. I often examine my state, especially for example before I meet a particularly draining friend or relative. I can use the power of relaxation and meditation to my advantage. I also love the fact that you mention so called ‘normal’ people rest up when they feel the need. I often balance my day or week with some lighter active days to balance the busier ones. Its normal. Great work, well done

  3. Carmen says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, Simon!

    It truly was balm for my soul, especially since I have many things going on right now and decided that it’s so very important to rest more than enough while dealing with all that.

    My body and intuition are clear on what’s important, yet so often my mind wants to override it …

    I am also SO very happy for that little paragraph on your friend, who is in good health and sometimes spends a whole day in bed – how much more will our body & soul enjoy that after so many years of hard struggle!

    I know this will be something I will remind myself of very often, and the interesting thing is that, despite a lot going on, when I do that, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL, and my body is also much, much happier for it 😉

    Thanks for everything you do for us!

    Cheers, Carmen

    • Simon Simon says:

      Thanks for your comments Carmen. Always good to know that at least one person finds the information useful.

      Happy to help!

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