Everyone knows how it feels to be completely worn down. After getting sick, dealing with a stressful and busy holiday season or having a few nights of terrible sleep, our bodies might be in pain and we might struggle to finish our day-to-day tasks. However, the exhaustion typically only lasts for a day or two before we feel normal again.
For people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, getting out of bed and performing minor tasks might be a challenge every single day. Chronic fatigue syndrome, also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), has no cure and is only managed by living energy-saving lifestyles day-to-day.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition in which you feel physically fatigued for no apparent reason for an extended period of time—usually longer than six months. This fatigue will not go away with rest and can be worsened by physical and mental activity, making the basic tasks of living difficult to complete.
Symptoms of the condition include persistent fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, feeling unrefreshed after sleep, sleep disorders and muscle and joint pain. Because of the everyday exhaustion and feelings of hopelessness it can cause, chronic fatigue syndrome can lead to a higher chance of developing depression, a lack of social interaction and major changes to the way you live your life.
Managing the fatigue and finding ways to live despite it are the best ways to push through if you suffer from this condition. Certain lifestyle choices are much more damaging to someone with chronic fatigue syndrome than they would be to the average person. If you are struggling to cope with your chronic fatigue, take a look at these lifestyle choices and see if you’re potentially making your fatigue worse by partaking in them.
- Pushing yourself too hard: One of the most common pitfalls that people with chronic fatigue syndrome experience is pushing themselves too hard on “good days.” Often, what happens is that you may wake up one day feeling somewhat refreshed and able to get more tasks done than usual. With the extra energy, you might be tempted to push yourself and accomplish more. However, this push usually leads to you feeling worse for the next few days because of the overexertion. You’ll need to learn how to pace yourself day-to-day, so that you don’t push too hard and end up in a slump. Overexertion can lead to a cycle of pushing and crashing that will ultimately exhaust you more.
- Being too active: Attempting to maintain a super active lifestyle can quickly end in disaster for someone with chronic fatigue syndrome. Many people with the condition are unable to handle even minor amounts of exercise or physical movement. If you have a job that requires you to stand or walk around a lot, you may need to consider cutting your hours or finding a new job. That being said, doing a small amount of exercise—even a few stretches every day—can help you stay mobile by easing sore muscles and joints. It’s all about finding a healthy balance.
- Handling too much stress: Stress can take a toll on your mental and physical wellbeing, even if you don’t have a chronic illness. This makes it even more debilitating for sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome. Aim to eliminate as many sources of stress as possible and find ways to cope with the remaining stressful aspects through yoga, meditation or therapy. You might also want to consider taking adaptogens like Ashwagandha, which are known to help the body cope with stress better.
- Eating an unhealthy diet: It’s no secret that eating a healthy diet is critical for keeping your body operating at peak performance. This is why eating junk food and a diet lacking in necessary vitamins and minerals is so detrimental to people with chronic fatigue syndrome. Your body needs all the strength it can get from healthy foods to keep you up and moving, especially with your limited capacity.
- Using drugs and alcohol: One of the most common things doctors tell patients when they are coping with a chronic illness is to cut out alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Using these addictive substances can have long-term effects on your health in general and can make someone with chronic fatigue feel even more tired, depressed and sore.
- Sleeping poorly: Sleep is a critical part of coping with chronic fatigue syndrome. Although the condition is known to cause insomnia and other sleep disorders, as well as make you feel less refreshed after sleep, getting a good night’s rest each night can make a big difference in the amount of fatigue you experience.
If you have poor sleeping habits, including having lots of caffeine before bed or going to sleep at random times each day, address these problems to regulate your sleep cycle.
By paying close attention to your everyday lifestyles and making a few simple changes, you may have the ability to drastically improve the way you handle your chronic fatigue. Not only that, but your body will be healthier and stronger if your symptoms ever ease over time.