You may have a lot more, so if I receive any I will add them to the list.
So here goes:
- Don’t over stretch yourself. This may sound obvious, but I found that on days when I felt a bit more energetic I could get carried away with what I was achieving only to pay for it with extra fatigue for days to come. The 75% rule is a good one. Only use up 75% of your available energy. Easier said than done, but it does work
- Pace yourself. Don’t try and copy what worked yesterday or even last week, but do what you feel happy and comfortable with. Take the long view. There will be ups and downs, but the tiny gains as you push out the boundaries add up over time. Go with the flow, it’s a lot less stress free.
- Rest is essential. I don’t mean just sitting down and reading, but a complete switch off from activity. Gentle music is good or anything that works for you and helps you to ‘centre down!’ I find meditation is very helpful. By that I don’t mean anything fancy or complicated, nor is it an emptying of the mind. As a Christian I often sit quietly, just being with Father God and allowing His peace to descend. That’s meditation at it’s most basic and powerful.
- Find the right balance. Alternate short periods of physical activity with rest, then mental activity, then more rest and so on. Head work can be just as tiring and energy-sapping as physical.
- Have objectives. Each day, decide to do one thing that is enjoyable and one thing that you don’t look forward to doing. No matter how small these are, the achievement works wonders for your confidence.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Again this may sound so elementary, but I often get so engrossed in what I am doing that I forget that my body temperature is dropping or overheating. This in turn can cause fatigue. So wear layers of clothes than can be easily taken off or on.
- Keep a journal. I have found this most helpful for at least three reasons. As a diary listing in some detail what I had done each day; this would give me some understanding of where I was going. As a prayer journal recording God’s dealing with me and my response. I found it very encouraging to look back on past months and see the progress. And also as a means of expression to help me get in touch with feelings and what my heart was saying.
- Get to know yourself. Our emotional and spiritual needs are very important and are often the key to moving forward. So be aware of how you are feeling, take ownership of those emotions and try to deal with them before you drop into despondency. Guard your thought life. It’s so easy for thoughts of hopelessness, fear and failure etc. to drop into our minds and pull us down and discourage us. We need to recognise these and replace them with the positive healing reality without delay.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t pressure yourself to achieve more than is possible and forgive yourself when you fail. Encourage yourself because few others may do so.
- Find support. I have a tremendous advantage and blessing of an understanding wife and I cannot overestimate the value of this. CFS can be very isolating, so it’s good to have someone outside of family if to be with now and again. Not someone to fix things, but just to ‘be’ together! That may be hard to find. but it has been possible for me when the need was greatest. The practical help needed will vary enormously from person to person. I have found it hard to learn to ask.
I have left this last one to the end, because it embraces all of them. I just don’t know how I could make all this work without a close relationship with God to guide and empower. It’s not about following a procedure, but about a relationship and that makes all the difference.