6 Steps on Healing Chronic Fatigue - The Natural Way
Have you ever felt like the only way to get out of bed is to have someone roll you out of it? Do you rely on coffee just to open your eyes? Do you find yourself completely depleted, sometimes for days on end, after a grocery store run? If you walk around the block are you quite ill for the next week? If you’ve ever experienced any of the above symptoms of severe fatigue you may be suffering from chronic fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome. Healing from chronic fatigue is involved and takes time - here are 6 simple steps to recover your strength right now:
1. Accept where you are in your healing journey.
Radical acceptance of your body’s capacity at this moment means accepting that today you may have little to no ability to function, but please know that does NOT mean your body will always feel this way. Acceptance of where you are in this moment does not mean you are completely throwing in the towel; it simply means you’re not going to fight what is today. Total and complete turnaround from chronic fatigue and CFS is completely possible, and the very first step is to feel compassion for your body. Your body is truly doing everything it can to heal you and keep you safe. It is working day and night in your favor, doing its best to cope and heal. Begin to cultivate compassion and reverence for your body as it is working every day, in every moment, to heal you.
2. Consistent sleep routines matter.
Our bodies function much better when we keep a consistent sleep and wake cycle and if you can match this sleep-wake cycle with the dark-light cycles of the day and night, even better. Keeping a consistent sleep-wake cycle allows your body to support you in feeling more awake in the morning and in falling asleep easily (and staying asleep) at bedtime. Do your best to go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time every morning. Setting a consistent alarm for both bedtime and wake-up time can be very helpful .
3. Get some sunlight - and often!
Our skin cells contain circadian rhythm “clock genes” that are affected by UVB sunlight. While we don’t know a lot about these genes we do know that some are “turned on” by sunlight exposure, with the possible conclusion that sunlight on our skin during the daytime supports our ability to keep a normal circadian rhythm. Indirect sunlight in the eyes also allows for correct regulation of circadian rhythm.
Aside from supporting our sleep-wake cycles, UVB rays from sunlight allow our bodies to produce vitamin D, which is crucial to every organ system, and optimal levels are absolutely necessary for healing from any type of fatigue or chronic illness. So once you’re out of bed, do your best to get some sunlight on your skin (and indirectly in your eyes) during the day and similarly, keep lighting in your house very low in the evenings. (If you burn easily, focus on getting sunlight on your skin in the mornings and evenings)
4. Drink more water.
This is especially important for those of us living in the desert, but even if you live in a more humid environment, getting enough water is crucial for your health. More than half of our body mass is water. Indeed, our brain and heart are mostly composed of water. You’d think that would be enough to last us a lifetime but our cells depend upon being adequately hydrated for proper functioning. Each day we lose 2-3 liters of water!
Most metabolic pathways in our body requires water to function. Water hydrates all the joints in our bodies and nourishes our brain and spinal cord. It allows too for proper detoxification of chemicals, which is essential in this day and age when chemicals are everywhere in our environment. Dehydration affects your energy and ability to concentrate which is why maintaining good hydration is so crucial for your health.
Aim to drink one-half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, you can add in fruits or herbs to help flavor the water and also provide electrolytes. Some examples include freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, cucumbers, mint, hibiscus flowers or any other herbal (not green or black) tea, berries, etc. If your urine is light colored, you know you’re adequately hydrating. If it’s dark in color, you very likely need more water. Don’t forget that you can get water from foods as well such as watermelon, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, oranges, and pineapple.
5. Cleanse out those chemicals.
Never before in history have humans had to contend with so many different types and combinations of chemicals in their environment. These chemicals are found nearly everywhere we look: in food (i.e. pesticides and herbacides), water, air, household furniture, carpets, paints, particle board, cleaning products, plastic containers and plastic wraps, personal care products (i.e. shampoos, lotions and make-up, etc.).
The easiest ways to begin to decrease the chemicals in your environment are to:
Use biodegradable and natural cleaning products as much as possible. There are many online resources for this. In most areas of my home I use a mixture water, a small amount of rubbing alcohol and essential oils. Vinegar also works well for many types of cleaning.
Drink from glass or stainless steel; avoid plastic water bottles altogether, especially single use plastic water bottles.
Throw away air fresheners. Buy an essential oil diffuser and use pure essential oils to scent your home.
Stop smoking. Do not allow anyone to smoke in your home.
When driving on the highway/freeway, make sure your windows are all the way up and air recycling mechanism is on.
Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide (CO) detector.
Use non-toxic and natural personal care products. You can search on EWG’s ‘Skin Deep Database’ to see how your products rate for toxicity: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.
6. See a naturopathic doctor who focuses in Chronic Fatigue.
While all practitioners in the medical field may be superficially familiar with chronic fatigue and CFS, many are not well informed in its causes and effects. Many have never experienced what this kind of illness is like and often times a diagnosis of CFS is given with a referral to a psychiatrist in the hope that an anti-depressant will cure the illness - most of the time it will not.
It’s crucial to find a provider who will listen with compassion and care, consider your case from a holistic perspective, and give you doable and effective recommendations. There are many, many holistic practitioners who are highly skilled in this area.
Written by: Cara Lan, NMD
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