Chronic fatigue syndrome can drain your energy and make simple everyday tasks feel like a chore; to the point where living a healthy and productive life feels nearly impossible.
There are different cases of CFS, from mild to severe. A person with mild CFS may often need to take extra days off work to rest, while a moderate case of CFS may mean reduced mobility and disturbed sleep patterns. Severe CFS can affect everything from your concentration to your mobility, and even minimal tasks such as brushing your teeth can be challenging.
The good news, however, is that chronic fatigue syndrome doesn’t have to define who you are, and you can still be productive by focusing on little things that can make the symptoms more manageable and enhance your quality of life.
Here five tips for getting the most out of your days, despite chronic fatigue syndrome.
1. Identify your triggers
Everyone has triggers; things that bring on intense CFS symptoms. By identifying your own triggers, you can take steps to avoiding things that aggravate your condition and you’ll be able to organize your day more efficiently.
For some people certain foods may trigger symptoms, others may have environmental or chemical sensitivities. Your physician may be able to help you identify your triggers, but keeping a daily diary of your symptoms and when they started can also help you to identify patterns.
Stress is also thought to be a big contributor to CFS symptoms, so try to eliminate stress from your life as much as possible. Avoid situations that are psychologically demanding; try to keep your schedule flexible and start working on tasks well before the deadlines so that you don’t feel pressured.
2. Pay attention to your food
Believe it or not, nutrition also plays an important role in your ability to cope with CFS. Certain foods like caffeine and sugar may give you a short term buzz, but once the initial effect has worn off, your energy levels will crash and you’ll be left feeling drained and exhausted.
In general, try to avoid junk food and prepare as much as possible of your food from scratch using whole grains, fresh fruits and raw vegetables and high-energy sources of protein such as beans or peas.
It’s also important to note that some foods, even if they are considered to be healthy, may not be the best for you. Everyone reacts differently to different foods, and CFS often causes food sensitivities or allergies that can worsen your condition.
Things like dairy or gluten for example may affect you adversely. Keep a food diary to determine which foods give you the most energy and which ones cause you discomfort.
3. Take notes
CFS is also known to cause memory loss in some individuals, so if you find it difficult to remember things or often walk into a room only to forget what you came to do, it may be a good idea to start noting down everything that you intend to do in order to maximize your time and efforts.
You should do this at the start of the day by making a checklist in a notebook or on your tablet or smart phone. Then throughout the day you can check off what you’ve already done, and remind yourself of what needs to be done next.
You can also keep track of everything from shopping lists to the names and details of new people you meet at work or school.
4. Rest before you are exhausted
One mistake that many CFS sufferers make is pushing themselves to the limit, which causes them to crash at the end or middle of the day. Rather than working to the point of exhaustion, it is far better to take regular breaks and rest stops before the symptoms become unmanageable.
Overexerting yourself also means it will take a lot longer to recover, so in the end you are getting less done than you would have if you took a break and rested on time.
Improving the quality of your sleep at night is also important to your energy levels during the day. Take steps to shut out distractions at bedtime. For example, you may want to use earplugs or a white noise machine to block out noise and eyeshades to keep out the light.
It’s also best to avoid tech gadgets right before you go to bed as they can interfere with your sleep patterns. Don’t watch television in bed and leave your mobile phone and laptop or other gadgets out the bedroom.
Other things like herbal teas with honey or lavender potpourri may also improve your quality of sleep, so experiment with a few things and find out what works for you.
5. Be realistic: don’t compare your activity levels to other people’s
It’s important to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day. Don’t compare your activity levels with those of your friends or family, as this will only cause stress and dissatisfaction.
Make a point of measuring your progress by your own past efforts and not someone else’s. By staying realistic about what you can do and leaving room for good and bad days, you will be able to greatly reduce your stress levels and enjoy life more fully.