Chronic fatigue syndrome is an exhausting condition characterized by debilitating fatigue that doesn’t go away with rest. I’ve been living with chronic fatigue for a number of years, probably before I was officially diagnosed with mononucleosis three years ago. Yoga is an excellent way to manage chronic fatigue symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of chronic fatigue?
My symptoms were debilitating fatigue, a nagging sore throat, glassy eyes, chills and an overall feeling of unwellness.
- chronic and debilitating exhaustion
- brain fog
- muscle weakness
- slowed reflexes
- post-exertional malaise
- depression, stress and anxiety
How long does chronic fatigue syndrome last?
To be diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, symptoms must persist for at least six months. But for some people, symptoms can be off and on for years. I can always tell when I’m flaring because the sore throat and glassy eyes come back.
Can chronic fatigue syndrome be cured?
There is no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, but some symptoms can be treated or managed. Always discuss your concerns and treatment options with your doctor.
Whole Foods diet. A natural, low carb diet is an essential part of good health. You might want to look at the Paleo, GAPS and SCD diets.
Vitamin supplements. If you live with a chronic condition, it’s essential to get your labs run. You might have nutritional deficiencies that are either contributing to your condition or even making things worse.
Lifestyle changes. Reduce or cut out caffeine and alcohol. Reduce stress. Gentle movement. Lose weight, if necessary. Get solid rest every night. Every little thing you do will boost your overall health and your body’s healing. Alternative therapies such as meditation, gentle exercise, or yoga can be very beneficial and help to relieve symptoms such as depression.
Does chronic fatigue weaken the immune system?
If you have Epstein Barr you should know that it has been associated with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus and malignancies including Hodgkin’s disease, B cell lymphomas and nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
Yoga For Chronic Fatigue
If you’re struggling with chronic fatigue, the last thing you probably want to do right now is exercise. One major symptom of chronic fatigue symptom is post-exertional malaise, which is a debilitating reaction to even small amounts of exercise. (I had this going on for years before I realized what it was!) Symptoms can range to increased fatigue, pain and flu like symptoms.
Many people with chronic illness are turning towards yoga to help cope. Yoga is an ancient practice combining mindfulness meditation and movement which have a deep and long lasting effect on the mind and body.
I was given a review copy of Yoga for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Kayla Kurin. I found this book to be a very empowering read and confirmed much of what I’ve learned along the way living with chronic illness since 2010. Keeping my nervous system calm is key to managing my diagnoses of cervical dystonia, ulcerative colitis and chronic fatigue.
I’ve struggled with disordered eating for most of my life and got into the habit of using strenuous exercise as a “purge” for when I’d overdone it. But as I got into my 30’s I began to notice that on the days when I had a hard workout, I would get bad cold symptoms within a few hours.
Even after I knew what was going on, I’d often still try to push too hard and would pay the price..which meant I couldn’t work out again for a week or more. I’ve really struggled with doing “only” gentle yoga but I’m in a better place of acceptance about it.
If you live with chronic fatigue syndrome, it’s essential to have restorative practices in your life so that your body can rest and heal. It’s an act of lovingkindness to yourself. Ms. Kurin discusses mindfulness as a tool for healing. As a Christian, I’ve often heard about mindfulness being frowned upon but when I took some time to learn about it myself, I found that it was as simple as keeping your head where your feet are…being fully present with yourself and where you are.
Yoga for Chronic Fatigue is a fantastic read for anyone living with chronic fatigue, or any other chronic illness for that matter. While it’s not promoting a cure, it will empower you to make the healthiest lifestyle choice that you can which will give you a mental boost and restore your energy over time.
Yoga for Chronic Fatigue is divided into seven sections:
- Understanding Chronic Fatigue
- The Yogic View of Chronic Fatigue
- Mindfulness as a Tool for Healing
- Using the Breath as an Energy Source
- Yoga poses to Help Reduce Fatigue
- Building Daily Self Care Rituals
- Living Mindfully.
I especially appreciated the chapter about building daily self care rituals, which is another essential part of recovery for anyone living with chronic fatigue or other chronic illness. Your lifestyle must support your healing. This includes practices such as creating a morning routine, adequate sleep and intentional living. Having set routines helps to reduce decision fatigue which is an important part of learning to pace yourself. If you’re always stressed out, you’re only sending your recovery backwards.
Yoga helps to regulate breathing and increases metabolism, aids in weight loss, relieves stress and reduces depression by bringing in positive energy via meditation and can also help in pain relief and management.
If you’re living with chronic fatigue or any form of chronic illness, Yoga for Chronic Fatigue is a must read!
What It’s Like to Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Now
Since I began a mindfulness and breath practice my overall attitude to every part of my life has improved and the anxiety that I struggled with for years has been greatly diminished. I’m not cured by any means. I started feeling unwell a few months ago and sure enough, the EBV numbers were elevated. I have good and bad days with IBD and dystonia which themselves are debilitating and exhausting.
Life is going to happen, but I have a mind, body and spirit practice that I can always fall back on.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou, Letters to My Daughter
If you live with ME/CVS, please consult with a knowledgeable professional as some yoga postures may push the limits of your balance and strength.