Wake up every morning feeling just as exhausted as when you went to bed? Welcome to the world of Chronic Fatigue; where just getting up in the morning, and staying up, can be a monumental task. I've found that if you have something really nice to look forward to right after you get up, it makes it easier. I allow myself one or two cups of coffee in the morning - but wow - what coffee! I blend mocha, chocolate & hazelnut flavored coffee and put it in an espresso machine. Then I microwave a cup of milk until just boiling. I add demerara sugar and froth it up. Then I add some of the coffee, a piece of split vanilla bean and sprinkle the froth with cinnamon. Total decadence. I have everything set up from the night before, so there is minimal work in the morning preparing it. Looking forward to it is enough to get me out of bed, and after I savor a cup - the caffeine kick is enough to jumpstart the day.
Find your own special "jumpstart" and use it to begin each day. After a while, it becomes such a habit that you no longer dread getting out of bed - no matter how tired you feel.
Life with Chronic Fatigue due to an Autoimmune Disease and/or Fibromyalgia is like taking a journey into unknown territory. It can be frustrating and scary, but it can also give you the opportunity to learn and experience new things and make changes that will help improve both your emotional and physical health.
No one is saying that this process will be easy, but it does not have to be the end of life as you know it. There IS hope.
You will be more successful if you take things a day at a time, focusing on setting realistic goals, approaching life with a positive attitude, and prioritizing and choosing to take the necessary steps to find improved overall health and well-being. There are ways to feel inspired by your journey.
Although Chronic Fatigue may change your life, it can be a change for the better. Now you must choose your activities carefully and use your limited energy to focus on those things that are most important to you. Many things in life may catch your eye or spark your interest, but very few will touch your heart. Pursue what touches your heart.
The focus on your life will be on something other than your illness and you will become a healthier and happier individual. It might take time,but you can go from the depths of pain and misery to the realization of a brighter, healthier, and happier life.
People with Autoimmune Diseases and/or Fibromyalgia can learn to use their hypersensitivity. Use your intuition. When you learn to trust healthy intuition, you can often get a lot of help in getting through life.
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Listen to your body. Rest before you get over-tired. Sometimes this is difficult for people with Chronic Fatigue, we are tired all the time and do not even realize when we have really overdone it, until it's too late.
Avoid activities that tax you beyond endurance.
Identify personal energy drainers and develop strategies that reduce them as much as possible.
Paradoxical breathing is another common cause of fatigue. People with Chronic Fatigue are often oxygen starved. Proper, deep "belly" breathing must be restored, with the belly expanding with the inhale and contracting on the exhale.
Identify stress from overwork and reduce workload.
Evaluate efficiency. As you work, evaluate your efficiency. Is there an easier, simpler, more effective way to perform this task?
Adjust your point of view. .Think of your to-do list as a tool that helps you achieve your goals, not as a set of chores. How you look at it can influence how you deal with it.
Phone tag. Suggest a specific time when a call can be made or returned. This allows both parties to be available and ready for the conversation.
Use a relaxation tape when you are feeling most fatigued. You may be amazed at how refreshed you will feel afterward. You might even feel better than if you had taken a nap.
Think ahead. If you are sitting down to read a book, first think about the things you will need. Make one effort to find the book, your glasses, a pillow, a footstool, and a drink. Then when you start reading you will not have to stop and get the things you need and want.
Interruptions. Establish a schedule that includes time when you are not to be disturbed. Make sure that everyone respects your time.
Do necessary chores while listening to inspirational, positive-thinking tapes, audiobooks or your favorite music. Dust off your mind while you dust your shelves. Check your library for audio book selections.
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Make getting good sleep and rest a high priority.
Categorize items on your list according to importance by noting top priority tasks with an A. List both high and low priority tasks to be accomplished to allow you to focus during the time of increased fatigue. When afternoon fatigue hits, follow the list rather than relying on memory or self-motivation.
If you set a schedule that becomes impossible to keep, prioritize your activities and eliminate those things that are less important or unnecessary. Recognize realistically how long it takes to perform each task.
Divide your task into smaller projects instead of one big project. Do a little at a time and do more at your best time.
Continue relaxing activities and those that rejuvenate your energy. Eliminate activities that drain your energy. Avoid unnecessary details and simplify whenever possible.
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A place for everything. Designate a place where you always keep your glasses, keys, purse, wallet, shopping list, address book, and so on. This will greatly reduce the time you spend looking for these items.
Use lists to save time and energy. List your weekly errands and group some together to save time and miles.
Calendar organizers keep track of your plans in one place.
Plan your day to make the best use of peak energy levels. Schedule exercise programs for the best part of the day, while relegating tasks such as sorting mail to low energy times.
Are closets organized with items easily retrievable? Get rid of anything you don't use.
Is your work area organized and efficient? What would make it better?
Fatigue makes the smallest activity a monumental task. Organization will reduce frustration and allow the best use of your energy. Take inventory of your home and workplace. Ask yourself if everything is organized and easy to find. If not, make changes.
Group items in labeled boxes or containers so that you can find what you need to operate more efficiently. While you're at it, box and give away items you no longer need; you will have less clutter to maintain. The time and energy you save and the stress you eliminate will be worth the effort.
Examine your rooms. Would a different furniture arrangement make work easier? Remove unnecessary furniture and other items.
If you have several things to do in the kitchen, group those activities together and do them at once without straying to other projects in other areas of the house. Every time you stop and restart an activity, it takes additional time to get back into the flow of that activity.
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Pacing needs to be incorporated throughout the day in order for Chronic Fatigue to be successfully managed. Strive for a better balance of work, rest and leisure.
Take frequent breaks throughout the day to rest, stretch and relax your muscles. If you need to sit or stand for long periods of time or are working on a lengthy demanding task, take frequent short breaks to change positions and to move around.
By pacing you will find that you will be able to get through the day without the pain reaching that unbearable pitch that makes you feel as though you are falling apart and not accomplishing anything at all. This is one of the most important ways to help reduce the amount of pain.
IT is very difficult to stop and take that break when there is still so much to be done, but you will notice that the tasks will become a little easier after you have rested. Lying down when possible works the best, but even sitting down and putting your feet up on something helps a lot.
Take breaks before you get tired and before you're experiencing increased muscle strain. You may need to set a timer to remind yourself to stop.
When you're having a "good" day, resist the temptation to overdo and to work or play with no breaks. Many people with Chronic Fatigue will pay later with increased fatigue, muscle stiffness, aching and/or pain.
Alternate activities in order to use different muscles and give other muscles a rest.
One of the most important reasons you should leave your perfectionist and overachieving tendences behind is because of the toll it can take on your health. If you are living with a chronic illness, the last thing you want to do is practice a lifestyle that puts even more stress on your body.
Stick to the time you'd planned to work and then quit - you'll get more done in the long run than if you wear yourself out.
Alternate light and heavy tasks, doing the toughest jobs when you're feeling your best.
Allow adequate time between chores to relax and recharge so that you can accomplish more without becoming exhausted.
Morning may be the best time for activities that require mental concentration and physical endurance. Plan activities that require more physical effort when you feel your best: grocery shopping, exercise, a trip. Schedule time with family and friends when you are less likely to be fatigued.
Pace yourself throughout the day and week to use energy wisely. Space work and activities evenly throughout the week. Don't exhaust your energy on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. If you do, you will be recuperating on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Pursue pleasurable activities that keep you stimulated, learning, growing and excited about life.
Although Autoimmune diseases and Fibromyalgia are devastating, even these dark clouds have a silver lining. They have taught you what you do not have to do and have given you space to explore who you truly are. You have earned that right.
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Give yourself an extra 15 minutes in the morning before you start your day. That way you don't start off feeling rushed and tired.
Drink plenty of fluids and continue to do so during the day. This will help guard against dehydration which in turn can cause fatigue. Fatigue is often caused by Sjogren's Syndrome - another autoimmune disease that unfortunately affects people with a primary autoimmune disease.
Know Where You're Going:
Take time each morning to set specific goals for the day. Determine what you want to do; don't let the routine control you.
Give Yourself a Target:
Some people simply need deadlines to keep moving forward. Give yourself both short and long deadlines - so neither becomes too routine.
Tackle One Thing at a Time:
People feel even more fatigued because they think they have so much to do they don't know where to start. Make lists and set priorities, then you can chart your progress as you make your way through the list, you can remain focused and energetic.
Open Your Mind to Energy:
Think positive. Be motivated. Be confident (chances are good that if you feel you CAN do it, you will have the energy to do it. And once you've proven to yourself that you've got the energy, you will become even more confident).
Work at Your Peak:
Schedule your taxing jobs for the time of day when you're at your peak - for people with Chronic Fatigue - this usually means in the morning. Recognize your energy cycles as well as your capacity and plan accordingly.
Music can light your fire. Listen to whatever and whoever peps you up. I know if I have a large job to do and no energy, I play an audiobook. The distraction of listening to the story as I work makes the job a whole lot less tiring.
Rest in a cool, dry atmosphere as often as you can, drink plenty of liquids, open a window or turn on a fan.
Change Your Routine:
Nothing makes you feel stale faster than a repetitive predictable routine. So try to do something novel and interesting once a day (or more). If, on the other hand you're on the go too much, set aside some time for peace and quiet.
Arrest the Energy Robbers:
Resolve the problem, and if you can't - take a vacation from the situation.
Just Say No:
If too many obligations or commitments are wearing you out, learn to say "no".
Stretch if You Can't Exercise:
Tiredness can be exacerbated by under-exertion as well as overexertion. The result of sitting around is when you need the muscle power, you don't get it and you tire quickly. Regular conditioning exercise helps you resist fatigue by enabling you to handle a bigger workload. If you simply can't exercise, do some stretching.
Make a Splash:
Stop long enough to splash your face with cold water. Cascading water emits negative ions in the air, which surround the body. Negative ions are thought to make some people feel happier and more energetic.
No mater how interesting or demanding your work, you'll be able to do it with more vigor if now and again you stop, stretch, and change the scenery. Instead of coffee and a sweet roll on your break, try relaxation or a walk.
Rest and Relax:
A couple of good nights sleep will help. But also a daily relaxation break can restore your energy. Schedule your work to allow relaxation breaks, then practice deep breathing or meditation.
Get 20 Winks:
Sleep more. Try to get not only longer sleep - but better sleep. Sleep disturbance is a common response to changes in our lives. If you need naps - take them.
Forget trying to find the "best" aroma for this or that. Pick one that YOU like. By having the aroma that you like best - you will automatically inhale longer and deeper to enjoy it; by doing so you will be oxygenating your body and relaxing your mind - and that's what Aromatherapy is all about.
Clove is a general tonic for both physical and Intellectual weakness. Jasmine tea lifts the spirits. Peppermint tea is good for digestion, a tonic and a stimulant; and is good for nervous disorders and fatigue.
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There are many other aspects of Chronic Fatigue that need to be dealt with: Mental Fog; Stress, Anxiety & Tension; Depression; Pain; Flares; Sleep; Exercise; and Eating Properly. Each of those will be addressed on the following pages (click on each to go to the page)
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I've found the following aphorisms to be a help - perhaps you will, too. (click on the below to be taken to those pages)
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Many people feel they are being blamed for causing their own symptoms or have been told they are suffering from a psychological illness such as anxiety or depression. This can result in feelings of distrust or shame about having an Autoimmune Disease or Fibromyalgia. Self-esteem can be damaged and the doctor-patient relationship may be strained.
When the symptoms of my autoimmune disease began, my primary care physician did a routine blood test, said it came out fine and offered me antidepressants (!) "Offer declined, thank you very much!"
Then my dermatamyositis was misdiagnosed by a local rheumatologist who kept insisting that it was SLE (systemic lupus). Even when my dermatologist called her (he had treated dermatamyositis previously and knew immediately what it was), she refused to believe him and prescribed low doses of prednisone that didn't help at all; and meanwhile it got worse. After several fruitless appointments with the rheumatologist, I dropped her and went solely to the dermatologist and was treated properly.
My point is - don't go to a doctor just because he/she "is specialized in that area." Go to a doctor who has a track record with your problem, who is knowledgeable about the disease and takes the time to discuss things with you. (The rheumatologist was obviously unfamiliar with dermatamyositis and evidently had never even seen a case before.)
The pain and symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases and Fibromyalgia are real and have a definite physical origin. Unfortunately, medical science has not yet arrived at a full understanding of them.
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I am only offering this list as a possibility. Just because they work for me does not mean that they will work for everyone. Please - before you consider ANY, do the research yourself; there is plenty of information about each one on the internet.
Be aware that people can sometimes react strangely to common substances, herbs, minerals and even vitamins. This makes finding what helps you quite difficult. You need to be careful, try things cautiously, and to try one thing at a time.
Advil Cold and Sinus (for the intense overall body aching and the feeling of intolerable internal heat)
Bitter Melon capsules (autoimmune disease aid & cancer preventative)
Citracal Plus (calcium supplement) (bone health)
CO-Q10 - rejuvenating and absolutely mandatory if you take any kind of cholesterol medication
DHEA (for energy & rejuvenating)
Folic Acid (autoimmune disease aid)
GenTeal Eye Drops & Eye Ointment (for dry eyes)
Hawthorn Berry capsules (blood pressure & heart health)
Hydraplenish with MSM (Hyaluronic Acid) (arthritis aid)
Lecithin (heart health)
Lithium Orotate (this is NOT prescription Lithium which is Lithium Carbonate) (for restless leg syndrome & relaxation aid before sleeping)
Mangosteen juice or capsules (arthritis aid)
Melatonin (sleep aid)
Super B Complex (in the morning for energy)
Tagamet OR Zantac (although these are anti-ulcer medications they can work as an analgesic and when taken before bedtime, help ensure a good night's sleep.)
Theragran-M multi-vitamin (available at Rite Aid stores)
Vitamin C (preventative for viruses, illnesses) (at least 2000 mg a day, 3000 mg if you feel bad)
Vitamin E (for dry skin)
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