Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue: after a long night of sleep, most of us awake feeling refreshed or at least somewhat recovered from the fatigue we felt before going to bed. For those who have chronic fatigue, waking up feeling rested would be a miracle because most of the time, they awake feeling just as exhausted as when they went to bed.

This constant fatigue often creates depression, for it is difficult to feel optimistic when one can hardly stay awake. How does anyone with chronic fatigue or any chronic illness manage to find ways to feel good in order to help heal the illness? The best approach takes into consideration the whole person, nurturing the emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental.

Gratitude is one of the most powerfully healing attitudes available to us. There is always something for which to be thankful: the unexpected song of the bird outside your window, the spouse who gives you a hug when you need it, the sun that breaks through the clouds of a rainy afternoon, or the fact you are simply alive another day. The attitude of gratitude is a choice. For one moment, you choose to believe that a simple thing you usually take for granted is worthy of attention. Ending each day by making a list of those things for which you are grateful is an affirmation that there is good in life beyond the fatigue and pain.

Probably one of the most difficult problems related to chronic fatigue is finding a way to exercise. It’s difficult to be motivated when you have no energy; yet, according to most studies, even minimal exercise increases the blood flow to all the organs. The result is that you feel better, but overdoing it can wreck havoc on an already overloaded immune system. Begin with a five minute walk, and when that becomes comfortable, gradually increase the time. Ideally, you need 30 minutes of non-impact or low impact aerobics like brisk walking repeated 3-4 times a week. Other activities that have been proven to be beneficial are yoga and Tai Chi because they improve the mind/body connection and create a feeling of peacefulness as well as balance energy in the body.

People with chronic fatigue almost always experience some amount of sleep deprivation. Some people have trouble going to sleep, others wake in the middle of the night for long periods. Karen Lee Richards at suggests that it is helpful to adjust one’s schedule so that you work or plan when energy levels are higher then take a nap when energy is lower. She also suggests making lists and writing everything down to help cope with the brain fog that often occurs. If having trouble relaxing is a problem, listening to soothing music will help calm you and releases “feel good” chemicals in the brain. Many physicians prescribe antidepressants and sleep medication, but Dr. Michael Rosenbaum, a pioneer in nutritional medicine, uses vitamins, minerals and supplements, especially calcium/magnesium which creates a natural, gentle feeling of well-being before going to bed.

Nutrition is the basis of good health so it is especially important to pay attention to what you eat when ill. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars and flours, and foods that contain preservatives, additives, or artificial flavoring or artificial sweeteners. If possible, eat only organic food and mostly fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and hormone and chemical free poultry or fish. Because turkey contains tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, and chronic fatigue leads to depression, eating turkey on a daily basis can help boost serotonin levels and increase feelings of well being. Eating three well-balanced meals with healthy snacks in between will also help keep blood sugar, moods and energy level.

What you inhale is just as important as what you ingest, especially for those sensitive to mold, mildew, pollen and chemicals. Exposure to these can be a constant drain on the immune system. Although it isn’t possible to avoid exposure when you go out of the house, there is great benefit keeping a high quality air purifier operating in the house around the clock. The cost is minimal. It is particularly beneficial to keep it in the bedroom at night where you can breathe pure air for several straight hours. Awakening to the fragrance of clean, fresh air is almost as uplifting as breathing fresh air, when you can find it, out-of-doors. One of the best purifiers is the Austin Air, which comes in various sizes for the house and a small portable version.

Because chronic fatigue may be caused by many different factors, the best treatment involves individual care from a physician, but regardless of the causes of your chronic fatigue, using these tips to take care of your mind, body, emotions, and spirit will improve your well being and lift your spirits. That’s always good for your health.