Reduce stress and anxiety. Learn about chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and exhaustive conditions. Explore how you can improve your quality of life when you have chronic illness.
Are You Experiencing Any of These?
Here are just a few of the symptoms associated with chronic stress and exhaustive conditions:
Have you been diagnosed with a stress-related or chronic exhaustive condition? If so, these symptoms will probably be familiar to you:
- 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.
One of the main issues with chronic exhaustive conditions and other long-term illness is that they are 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.
Have you ever stopped and thought about whether it is irrational to treat one body part in isolation from the rest of you? This is common practice in Western society. In most hospitals you have specialists who treat one system of the body. Your health is categorised, dub-divided and split into sections. But you are a whole, unified person. So there is a discrepancy present - the approach to health is not aligned with the nature of you.
Symptoms are an indicator of what is happening in the rest of your body. You might get some improvements from focusing on one symptom, but will it really create long lasting change?
The key to improving chronic illness is to treat your body as a whole unit. In reality, if one part stops functioning optimally, then this affects your overall health. When yo begin to take control of the aspects of life that you can influence, then you can begin to improve your health.
Physiological Effects of Emotional Stress
The stress response can be activated from a huge range of experiences that we encounter during each day. Maybe you are feeling anxious about a situation, or you have had a row with your partner. Or perhaps you are rushing to get too much done in a short amount of time, or you are a carer and don't get time for yourself to relax...
No matter what your external circumstances, if you are regularly experiencing an active stress response, then your body is undergoing changes which affect you. To name just a few... your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, your digestion, muscles, and hormonal levels.
Your body's stress response is designed to provide a short-term boost of adrenaline so that you can escape from danger.
When your stress response is repeatedly activated, these short-term changes begin to affect your long-term health. Stress can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, thyroid disease, digestive issues and immune system disorders. In addition, long-term stress can lead to mental and emotional distress, depression, anxiety, severe exhaustion and an inability to cope with life.
Key Differences Between Acute and Chronic Illness
Do your symptoms have an internal or external cause?
Illness can be broadly categorised into 2 types:
Acute illness is short-lived. Maybe it lasts for a day or two, or even a few weeks. Think of a stomach upset, a cold, or the flu. Acute illnesses are often caused by an external pathogen, like a virus or a microbe, which invades your body and causes you to be ill. If you are generally in good health, your body will be able to fight off the infection and you regain your health.
Chronic illness is a longer-term problem. It can last from a few weeks, through to a period of months, years, or a lifetime. Although it contains the same word, 'illness', it is often very different to acute health concerns. It is more complex, and can be affected by a range of other factors, many of which have an internal cause.
Some chronic illnesses are caused, or exacerbated, by genes, injury, or disability. For example, a virus may trigger an autoimmune condition, or you may have a strong genetic predisposition to a certain type of disease. In these cases, chronic illness may contain some aspects which are outside of your control.
But the nature of chronic illness is that it is continuously affected by your thoughts, emotions, feelings, reactions, and behaviour choices. Your diet, personal habits, stress levels, and emotional health are continuously affecting your biochemistry. This directly impacts your health.
Academics and scientists could disagree indefinitely about the extent to which chronic illness is determined by nature or nurture. But for most people who are living with any type of long term health condition, they just want to improve their quality of life.
So, here's the good news... Because all chronic illness exists within you, you have some potential to change your own biochemistry. Chronic illness is not universally caused by external pathogens. It is an internal experience which is influenced by the biochemical changes related to your own mental and emotional stress.
If you choose to learn how to control your mind and emotional health, this will have a positive impact upon your health. It quite literally changes your physiology and the way that your body responds to disease. (Bruce Lipton has done research into this area, if you want to know more). Or when you integrate new habits into your life, like good nutrition, exercise, or social support, you are making changes which will impact your overall level of well-being.
How you choose to view chronic illness can only be determined by you. So, you can see it as an external invasion on your body, even when you have no evidence of this. Or you can see it as an invitation for self-empowerment. An opportunity for you to make a deliberate decision about how to react to your experience. This decision is entirely yours.
Do you recognise any of these other things in your life?
Let's think for a moment about some of the ways that chronic illness can create ongoing challenges. Here are just a few...
You have to make changes to your diet
Restricts your mobility and energy levels
Emotional challenges within your relationships
Feelings of depression, despair and uncertainty due to your situation
Limits your ability to get out and socialise with other people
Impact on your finances, and ability to work or pursue a career
Decreased energy levels makes everything difficult
Symptoms like pain or fatigue dictate your daily life
A loss of of joy and purpose in your life
The Relationship Between Emotional Health and Chronic Illness
Here are a few things which may be impacting your health, but may still be unresolved:
Do You Have Any of These Personality Traits?
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
- 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
In order to reduce your levels of stress recovery it is essential to address the traits which have contributed to the situation you are in now. Otherwise nothing will change...
Ask yourself - what will happen if you don't do anything? How will it affect your relationships, work, and dreams for the future?
Trauma and Emotional Healing
The link between ongoing stress, emotions or unresolved psychological or emotional trauma is well documented. Perhaps the most well known recent research is the 'ACE' study of adverse childhood experiences which clearly demonstrates a correlation between stressful or traumatic experiences and chronic illness including heart disease, cancer, depression, and shortened life span. In addition, there is a well recognised link between adverse childhood experiences and addictive behaviour.
People who have experienced such difficulties fall into 2 broad camps: those who already recognise that they have experienced trauma, and those who have no recognition of this fact. This is a phenomenon which is often seen on people who are in abusive or controlling relationships - there may be no conscious awareness of the problem or the behavioural patterns that often follow. One of the most common difficulties in resolving stress or trauma is that it is often invisible to the person experiencing it. This is why having support from a suitably experienced coach who has this awareness can be invaluable.
Another fundamental issue which is often overlooked is the approach to resolving trauma or ongoing stress. The difference in view toward mind and body in Eastern and Western cultures is central to how trauma is resolved. In general, Western cultures tend to focus on treating the mind as a separate entity to the body. This can be seen in the discipline of psychology. But when the focus of healing is on controlling the mind, there is a tendency to ignore the extent to which body and mind are one organism. If unresolved stress or trauma continues to exist and to build up without physical release, health is likely to suffer as a result.
I wrote my Master's dissertation on approaches to overcoming trauma, and it's link to spiritual awakening. I spent a couple of years researching this subject. So if you feel that trauma may still be contributing to your symptoms, and you are thinking of enrolling for one-to-one coaching, please book in for your free discovery call so that we can speak on the phone.
Your Next Steps...
Here's how you can begin to improve your quality of life:
Begin to become more present and aware of your state of mind
Change unhelpful beliefs about your situation
Participate in activities which bring you joy and relaxation
Take practical steps to improve your circumstances and experience
Explore new ways you can begin to reduce or control your symptoms
Develop the ability to appreciate all the good things in your life, rather than focus on the challenges
Bring more meaning into your life, and align with your true purpose
Improve your emotional health so that it has a positive effect on your well-being
What Should You Do Next?
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?
Find a specialist practitioner
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 whether your potential practitioner has appropriate qualifications, not just an inspirational story.
Ask your practitioner these questions...
- Do you have an accreditation or qualification specifically in ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia recovery?
- Do you have any medical qualifications or experience?
- 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 know where I am in the recovery process?
- Do you know what therapies might make me feel worse?
- Do you have personal experience of chronic illness or exhaustive conditions?
I am also an Accredited Professional Member of the The Chrysalis Effect...
The Chrysalis Effect is a non-profit organisation which pioneers recovery from CFS, fibromyalgia and exhaustive conditions. The programme is founded and run by Elaine Wilkins.
Before you ask, no- I'm not an affiliate. I support this programme and the work done by the Chrysalis Effect because I know it works, and I want to help people to access the right programme for them.
So, I also provide one-to-one coaching and support for people who are working through the Chrysalis Effect Programme. My main focus is on reducing stress, and improving your emotional health. However, because I also work as part of the Chrysalis Effect team, if you need a referral to other specialists, like nutritional therapists, I can help you with that too.
If you are enrolled onto the Chrysalis Effect programme, I recommend that you combine it with one-to-one coaching for best results. This will give you the individual support that you need to make permanent improvements to your health.
When you are struggling with exhaustion and a huge array of unpleasant symptoms, it can be difficult to create change. Why not make this an easier process by getting the ongoing support that you need?
Enrol Onto Your One-to-One, Personalised Consultation Programme
Access the ongoing support that you need...
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 subscribe to a monthly payment plan, simply click on the link below to access the programme page.
One-to-one coaching gives you the time, attention and personal insight that you need to explore the areas of your life which may be contributing to your levels of stress and illness. It is a self-empowering process which helps you to make real lasting changes in your life.
Here Are A Few of the Things I Can Help You With...
Learn how to live well with chronic stress, fatigue and illness, and improve your quality of life
Coaching can help you to improve all the areas of your life which are affected by having a long-term health condition. (so that's pretty much everything!) Some of the things that I have helped people with include...
- Managing specific symptoms - including digestive problems, headaches, dizziness, pain, nausea and fatigue
- Learning ways of dealing with difficult family dynamics
- Practical ways to manage financially when you have chronic illness
- Developing skills for moving beyond childhood trauma or neglect
- Learning how to cope with a partner who is emotionally withdrawn and not supportive
- Overcoming loss - health, bereavement, work, meaning in life
- Deepening your spiritual connection and regain your trust in life
- Parenting when you have anxiety-related problems, chronic illness and overwhelming fatigue
- Creating 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.