Stress, Exhaustion and Chronic Illness in Spiritually Sensitive People
People who have higher levels of sensitivity to the world around them are by their very nature, more prone to developing a range of stress-related health conditions. These include chronic exhaustion, anxiety or depression, auto-immune disorders and inflammatory conditions.
It is common for highly intuitive people to struggle with stress-related concerns. This dynamic operates in a two-way interaction. First, HSP's and spiritual sensitives are more likely to have experienced trauma or adversity in their life than an average member of the population, and this can heighten the level of sensitivity that is experienced. Stressful situations are often a precursor for increased spiritual awareness, so this is not surprising, when you consider life from a spiritual perspective. In addition, heightened sensitivity to to the experiences of other people naturally results in your absorption of distress from others, until you learn to effectively manage your sensitivity. Increased levels of emotional stress are recognised as correlating with many chronic health conditions, including chronic fatigue, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease.
I have completed specialist training in supporting people with chronic exhaustive conditions. Because I have been through recovery from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia myself, it is a cause which is very close to my heart, and I have chosen to specialise in helping people with chronic illness, exhaustion or pain. Whilst I may refer primarily to exhaustive conditions, the associated problems apply equally to many other types of chronic health conditions too.
Have you been diagnosed with a chronic fatigue condition? If so, these symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, ME, & fibromyalgia will probably be familiar to you, and you may find yourself identifying with several of the following:
Pain: recurrent sore throat, often with swollen glands, aching muscles and joints, headaches or migraine, twitching muscles/ cramps, nerve pain, abdominal pain.
Sleep: Difficulty sleeping, early waking, hypersomnia (sleeping for long periods), non refreshing sleep,day/night reversal. Concentration - reduced attention span, 'brain fog', word recall problems, decreased short term memory, loss of concentration.
Mood: Frustration, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, mood swings, irritability.
Nervous system: dizziness on standing, hyper-sensitivity to light or sound, sweating, balance problems, poor temperature control.
Digestive: nausea, loss of appetite, IBS, indigestion, excessive bloating, abdominal cramps, alternating diarrhoea & constipation.
Intolerance & Sensitivity: bright lights, sounds, odours, food intolerance, some medications, alcohol, caffeine.
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, ME & fibromyalgia can have a slow, insidious onset or may come on suddenly after being triggered by a specific event, accident, or viral illness. You may find that certain symptoms seem very obvious at certain times, and then seem to disappear, only to return again. This can often cause frustration and despair.
One of the main issues with any of the chronic fatigue conditions is that they are such multi-faceted disorders. The usual approach is to target a particular symptom, and then to try and move on to the next, in the hope that you may finally eliminate them all. Unfortunately this approach seldom works.
If you have already looked at the range of therapies available to help your condition, you will find that there is an overwhelming array of well-meaning Practitioners and approaches available - all ready to try and improve your individual symptoms. Do you start by addressing the IBS, the muscle pain, the brain fog, anxiety, sleep disturbance, depression, adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, or the complete exhaustion? The list can be endless. After visiting numerous different Practitioners with no long term results, sometimes you can end up feeling worse instead of better.
The diagnosis which can be given to people with this group of symptoms can vary widely. Adrenal fatigue, emotional burnout, post viral fatigue syndrome, and CFS/ME are just a few of the terms used for this group of conditions.
The label which is given to a set of symptoms is dependent upon multiple factors, including differences in onset, type and severity of symptoms, the cultural in which the illness occurs, and the specialist interest of the person who made the diagnosis. Symptoms are typically viewed through the perspective of the individual. This can pose difficulties in a system where health is divided into parts of the body: for example, a neurologist may view a particular symptom through the lens of their specialism, whilst a rheumatologist or a psychiatrist may come to a different conclusion.
I have found that the key to recovery is not to focus on the diagnosis, but on your personal experience of being ill - because this will give you the insight that you need to make real improvements to your situation.
Personality Traits, Chronic Illness and Exhaustive Conditions
There are several personality traits which are associated with chronic fatigue, adrenal exhaustion, fibromyalgia, high sensitivity and autoimmune disease. Usually these traits result in the person experiencing high levels of stress, which over a prolonged period of time may result in chronic symptoms, pain and illness.
Common traits and behaviours which are seen in people with chronic fatigue and related conditions include:
High levels of empathy and concern for other people
Perfectionism and setting high goals for self, although not always for others.
Tend to be non-complainers, and have an attitude of 'simply get on with it', even in difficult circumstances
Previous experiences of trauma, loss or adversity throughout life
Desire to be constantly busy and productive
Accept high levels of responsibility, beyond the capacity of most people
Tendency to be a high achiever, either at work, in life, or within own life goals
Often attract partners who take advantage of gentle and compassionate nature
To make a full recovery it is necessary to address these underlying traits, and to fully understand the reasons why they have affected your health. This will allow you to make changes which will reduce long term stress levels in your body and facilitate healing.
Issues Resulting from Chronic Illness
Social isolation - often related to poor health, restricted mobility, depression
Relationships problems - family, friends, work colleagues
Feelings of despair - due to deteriorating health
Financial problems & debt - due to restricted ability to work
Frustration - lack of understanding from medics, family, friends, colleagues
Lack of clarity - feeling lost, unsupported, and desperate for guidance
Reducing Symptoms of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Conditions
Fortunately, there is a solution. The key lies in taking a multi-dimensional, or holistic, approach which addresses underlying causes of the condition, not only the symptoms. Finding a Practitioner who truly understands and specialises in the multi-faceted nature of these conditions is essential: If you simply address one aspect of your symptoms, it is obviously unrealistic to expect benefits for other symptoms too.
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, ME, & fibromyalgia may seem unrelated, but is not the case. When you look at the stress response and the effects it has on the body, you realise that they are all inter-connected. When you understand how your symptoms are related to each other, and are able to recognise them within yourself, you have the key to recovery. When you are able to do this effectively, plus maintain simple changes to your actions, you will often begin to experience long term improvements in your health. The most important thing to be aware of is that recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME & fibromyalgia is possible for you. All you need to do is to choose, and then act upon, your own path to recovery in order to regain your health.
Co-Existing Health Conditions
Thyroid disorder/ Hashimoto's
Connective tissue disease
Supporting Recovery from Chronic Fatigue is a Specialist Skill
Multi-faceted conditions such as CFS, ME & Fibromyalgia can present an overwhelming array of therapies and therapists to choose from on the road to recovery. Each therapy has a benefit, and therapists are trained to help you with their particular therapy, no matter what you symptoms you present with. The challenge for you is knowing which practitioner or approach will be of the most benefit to you. Imagine a standard practitioner being faced with trying to help you, they may well struggle to know exactly where to start, and this may often leave you feeling worse rather than better.
The way this often plays out is that you can find yourself on a merry-go-round of trying a therapy for a few sessions and then trying another. This is a common story told frequently by those trying to find answers to their chronic fatigue problems. No one is at fault; many practitioners believe that their particular therapy can do it all, and they are trying to find the right help for you. Unfortunately in multi-faceted conditions, this is rarely successful, and may leave you losing faith in your recovery. How do you find what you need?
The Importance of Experience in Chronic Fatigue Recovery
If you needed a plumber, would you call an electrician? Of course not. Both are tradesmen and both are well qualified, but the plumber is what you need to resolve your problem. Likewise, practitioners who have chosen to specialise in these particular conditions have studied them in depth, and are able to understand and explain to you the trajectory of the breakdown of your health and can explain this to you. They understand that you may also require a collaborative team approach, and possibly specific testing or therapy individual to you. They never work in an ad hoc manner because that simply does not get results.
Personal recovery from either adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or post-viral conditions provides an indication that the practitioner has valuable experience, which cannot be learnt from a book. However, just because someone previously experienced a fatigue-related condition does not mean that they automatically have knowledge and understanding of the condition. Check that they have appropriate qualifications, not just an inspirational story.
A Few Questions to Ask Your Practitioner:
- Do you have an accreditation or qualification specifically in ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia recovery?
- Do you treat all symptoms yourself or work within a specialist team and cross refer when appropriate?
- Can you explain exactly what is causing so many symptoms in my body?
- Do you have a step by step recovery plan that can be tailored to my needs?
- Do you have a clear map of where I am in the recovery process?
- Do you know what therapies might make me feel worse?
One-to-One Consultations and Ongoing Support for Chronic Health Conditions
Participating in a programme of one-to-one consultations is the best way to learn how to manage your symptoms, recognise the triggers which are keeping you stuck in a cycle of stress, and learn the skills needed to release previous trauma, and develop a healthier way of living.
If you are struggling with emotional burnout, fatigue, or any other chronic health condition, then these programmes would be a good choice for you. If you would like to book in, please click on the link at the bottom of this page to access monthly subscription links.
How one-to-one coaching can help you to overcome chronic stress, fatigue and illness:
Some of the issues that are often included in coaching programmes for people with chronic fatigue conditions and illness, or who wish to improve their emotional health include:
- Managing specific symptoms - digestive problems, headaches, dizziness, pain, nausea, fatigue
- Practical ways of dealing with dysfunctional family dynamics
- How to manage financially when you have chronic illness
- Moving beyond childhood trauma or neglect
- How to cope with a partner who is emotionally withdrawn and not supportive
- Dealing with loss - health, bereavement, identity, work, meaning in life
- Deepening your spiritual connection and regaining your trust in life
- Parenting when you have anxiety-related problems, chronic illness and overwhelming fatigue
- How to create new meaning in your life
- Learning how to pace effectively in the real world
Chronic illness affects every area of life, so you can include anything which is impacting you as a subject for coaching in our sessions.
*Please remember that there is a minimum requirement to enrol for a block of 6 full consultations if you have a chronic health concern.