Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex disorder characterized by prolonged exhaustion with additional symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, tender lymph nodes, poor sleep, headaches, memory problems and difficulty recovering after physical exertion.
Over one million people in the U.S. suffer from this condition. Some are able to get by while others are completely debilitated.
CFS is often misunderstood and can have a number of potential root causes. Often it’s a combination of several factors. This can make recovery daunting for someone who is having trouble simply getting out of bed in the morning.
If you or someone you know suffers from chronic fatigue, here is a quick guide to getting help.
First steps to recovery
1) Simplify your life and pace yourself.
- This is the time to focus most of your energy on healing so strike as much off of your to-do list as possible.
- Prioritize cooking simple, healthy meals and restorative activities such as gentle yoga or basic stretching and deep breathing exercises.
- Take periodic breaks throughout the day to rest and even take cat naps if you can. This is a healthy habit for anyone, but critical for someone with CFS.
- In the workplace, commit to a “don’t sweat the small stuff” mindset.
2) Get support from friends and family.
Don’t feel guilty about reaching out for help during this time of need. Family, friends and neighbors will be glad to take some responsibilities off your shoulders while you focus on your regaining your energy.
Ask a neighbor to phone or text when they are at the grocery store to see if there is anything you need. Have a family member come over to play with your children so that you take a short nap. These little breaks add up and will help get you on the upswing.
3) Heal your gut.
Those with CFS often crave sweets and high-carb meals that exacerbate the state of gut dysbiosis commonly associated with the condition. This creates a vicious cycle.
Instead, focus on:
- Gut healing healthy fats (including omega 3s), protein and vegetables.
- Green drinks, such as the recipes found in The 21-Day Belly Fix. These blended juices are nutrient dense, gently detoxifying and easy to digest.
- Probiotic-rich foods and supplements (start with small amounts).
4) Find the right doctor.
Having a good M.D. on your side is invaluable in the healing process. Make a few calls and find someone in your area who will dig deeper into the root causes of CFS.
Some things your doctor should test for:
- Autoimmune disease
- Thyroid function
- Nutrient deficiencies (Vitamins b, c, d and omega 3s)
- The presence of an underlying viral or bacterial infection