Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
I struggle with Chronic Fatigue. I was diagnosed about seven years ago after constantly getting sick with whatever illness was going around the neighbourhood at any given time whilst also having it the longest as my weakened immune system fought illness every couple of weeks. It was later discovered that I had experienced Glandular Fever that went undiagnosed because I was so sick and stressed at that point in my life so continued to push myself, passing it off as stress or yet another cold, rather than resting.
If you have Glandular Fever please be kind to yourself and allow time to rest and recover. The Better Health Channel states “A chronic form of glandular fever is one of the suggested causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” Great, just what you love to read…Not!
For those who don’t know what Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is, Healthline describes it as “a debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest, and can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition.” That is the simplistic version (you’re welcome!). The reality is there are multiple causes, multiple symptoms and multiple treatments which may also trigger your symptoms anyway.
My journey with Chronic Fatigue if described in one word would be mountainous; with many highs and lows along the way. Sometimes Jesus moves the mountains in our lives, sometimes He doesn’t. Jesus always answers when we call. However, sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes the answer is wait, and sometimes the answer is no. I don’t know why He chooses the way He does but I know He has a bigger plan in place. There have been countless tears and tantrums as I struggle to accept the fact my body has new limits. It is a tricky balance as doing nothing makes me tired but doing too much makes me tired.
Just because we have mountains in our lives doesn’t mean we can’t thrive in spite of them. Through my own trial an error I have improved my symptoms and gained a better quality of life. Here are some things that have worked for me, but as each case of Chronic Fatigue is different you need to listen to your own body and seek medical advice.
Go to bed and wake up the same time each day: In the early days of Chronic Fatigue I made the mistake of sleeping as much as possible which resulted in a headache like a hangover. So I set a wake up time of 9am and a bed time of 9:30pm which allowed me to not be utterly exhausted but no hangover headache either. Recently I have been trying to wake up between 8am and 8:30am, with promising results.
Exercising: Many experts state the positives of graded exercise linked to Chronic Fatigue. Graded exercise is slowly increasing the amount of exercise and stopping before you get tired. I have been embracing this concept for a while now; I started at 10 minutes and have over time increased to 30 minutes. After exercising I feel invigorated, as weird as it sounds I feel energised yet mildly tired at the same time. Some days I feel too tired to exercise so I don’t, it is about listening to my body. The workouts are varied depending on energy levels, weather and what I feel motivated to do these include: walking, running, swimming, weight training, stretching and workouts targeting specific areas of the body. I hope to add more. Don’t feel you have to avoid a certain work out you just might not be able to do it for as long.
Drinking Green Tea: This is a new habit I have picked up in which I drink one cup of Green Tea a day, generally at lunchtime; or if I am going out at night, I have it late afternoon. The caffeine in Green Tea gives my energy levels a boost; though because one cup of Green Tea has as much caffeine as one cup of coffee I wouldn’t be drinking it as if it was water. Green Tea also helps rid my over – sensitive body of toxins which has increased my energy levels.
Having a healthy diet: Trying to limit processed foods and eating more foods closer to its source has helped. Yet I will always have a weakness for sweet foods.
See if you have any food allergies: Allergies can put greater stress on your immune system. I have a glucose intolerance but I don’t have any other food allergies, though I have wondered about other food groups (dairy & gluten) which I consulted my doctor who ran tests to confirm I didn’t have allergies to either. I wouldn’t advocate cutting any food group out of your diet without first seeking medical advice.
Reduce stress: Less stress means more energy. Find a way to reduce stress that works for you. The various strategies I use are praying, exercising, colouring in, catching up with friends and family, counselling and enjoying my hobbies.
Pray: Jesus understands your exhaustion, share with Him your struggles and frustrations and ask Him to give you energy. You may not get all that you want but Jesus will provide for your needs.
Everyone is different and will respond differently. Consistency is the key. Like a diet it is ok to have ‘cheat days’ to stay out late out at that party or eat a slice of cake (guilty of both). Life is meant to be lived just be aware it could affect your Chronic Fatigue negatively.
Climbing mountains is really hard both literally and figuratively speaking. It takes determination for us to rise to the challenge and not let our circumstances beat us. A journey or climb takes one step at a time. Whatever mountain you face in life, have courage and never give up and remember you are never alone, Jesus is with you.