A recent bout of Covid has reminded me of how debilitating fatigue is and how difficult it can be to live with. I want to share what’s helped me in my battle against fatigue over the years in the hope that it will be of use to you or to someone you know who is struggling with this condition.
The ten things that helped me to fight my fatigue:
1. Acceptance. It takes as long as it takes to start recovering from fatigue and there aren’t any magic pills to make it go away. I found this really difficult to accept at first – I couldn’t believe there was little the doctors could do. I mentally fought against it and spent hours online trying to find a cure. Gradually I realised that there are no quick answers and this conclusion actually brought some relief as it removed some of my frustration and impatience and allowed me to feel calmer – which in turn improved my symptoms.
2. Slow down. Don’t try to power through and don’t expect too much of yourself. It’s so easy when you’re having a good day to overdo things but this often leads to setbacks. If you feel well enough, set what feel like small, achievable goals and then make them smaller still. I know it’s frustrating but better to make slow progress than feel like you’re getting nowhere.
3. Progress isn’t linear. I found that although feeling better happened gradually, it wasn’t a case of getting a bit better every day. I had bad days, followed by good ones sometimes followed by bad weeks when I felt all hope was lost. But I gave myself a score out of ten at the end of every day so on bad days I could look back and see that although I was currently a 4, a few days ago I had a run of 7s. Gradually I was improving.
4. Accept help. I know it’s a tough one especially when we’re so used to being there for others. But don’t let stubbornness get in the way of your recovery. Research shows that being kind to others boosts our happiness and self-esteem, so actually you’re doing people a favour by letting them help!
5. Be positive. Another hard one especially as our minds are hard wired to dwell on negatives. Worrying, jumping to conclusions, catastrophising and all or nothing thinking can increase our stress and anxiety levels and worsen the symptoms of fatigue. What we think affects how we feel so just as thinking negatively can make us feel bad, shifting our focus to the positives can help us feel better. Before you go to sleep at night try writing down three good things that have happened that day, however small or insignificant they may seem. Even having a good cup of tea made for you is a win. Remember – what you think is what you feel.
6. Do what you enjoy. This is again something that helps us to feel relaxed, acts as a distraction and helps us to be more positive. Only do what you feel capable of though and make swaps if you need to, for example, if you love books but are too tired to read, try listening to an audio book.
7. Rest and relax. Make sure you’re getting enough rest as it’s so important to allow your body to heal. It’s good to spend time away from the TV or computer so that our minds can really unwind. I found that switching off by listening to relaxation recordings that included muscle relaxation and guided imagery helped me.
8. Go offline. Try to avoid or limit the amount of time you spend googling your symptoms or engaging in negative chat in on-line groups. Yes, it’s good to look up constructive information and online forums can be supportive, but there’s also a danger that your mind will become completely preoccupied with how bad you feel. What we think affects how we feel so try to shift your mind onto other things than your illness. Limit your social media and avoid doom scrolling through the news.
9.Talk to your GP. In my experience it can be frustrating trying to talk to doctors about how you feel. You can be experiencing a wide range of symptoms, it’s hard to explain how you feel and frustrating that there doesn’t seem to be an answer. But it’s important to let your GP know how you’re feeling, particularly if your mood is low or you’re feeling anxious. They can also refer you for further tests if needed.
10.Remember you are amazing. You’re an incredible human being and you’ve already achieved so many things in your life, you have strength and courage and you will get through this.
How hypnotherapy can help
In my practice I’ve found that hypnotherapy can be really helpful in supporting people who are struggling with fatigue. As it’s a deeply relaxing therapy that works positively with the subconscious mind it can:
- Help to reduce stress and anxiety which use up a lot of energy.
- Help shift your focus away from worry to more positive thoughts.
- Support you if you’re struggling with low mood.
- Promote better relaxation, rest and sleep.
- Boost your confidence and self-esteem.
- Help you to introduce new healthy eating or exercise habits which may help your energy levels.
- Give your mind space to reflect and move forward in a way that’s right for you.
Just talking to someone about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through, who has time to listen and is completely impartial and non judgmental can help enormously.
If you’d like some support in living with your fatigue please do get in touch.
Fatigue and me
I had my first encounter with fatigue several years ago when I caught glandular fever. I was then diagnosed with post viral fatigue and it had a huge impact on my family life, career and general well-being. It was along haul to get back to a version of ‘normal’.
Two years ago I developed sepsis following a kidney infection and again chronic fatigue set in for a few months. More recently, Covid finally caught up with me and the fatigue was overwhelming. Luckily, this time it was short lived and helped by some of things I’ve learned over the years.
I hope some of the things I’ve discovered will help you.
What is Fatigue?
The NHS defines fatigue as ‘an overwhelming tiredness that isn’t relieved by rest and sleep’. Sufferers feel exhausted, either mentally, physically, or both. If you have fatigue you may find that you feel extremely tired all the time, that it’s hard to do daily activities, it takes a long time to recover after physical activity, you have problems sleeping and also problems with thinking, memory and concentration. You may also have other symptoms such as muscle or joint pain and headaches. It’s no wonder that these symptoms may also result in feelings of stress, anxiety, low mood and loss of confidence.
Fatigue can be a symptom of a number of health conditions as well with stress and depression. If you are struggling with fatigue it’s important to talk to your GP in case you have an underlying health condition or need medical help.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Self-help tips to fight tiredness – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Long-term effects of coronavirus (long COVID) – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Tiredness (Fatigue) | Exhaustion | Causes, Tests & Treatment | Patient
Hypnotherapy helps - get in touch today