Article Index

Stay emotionally healthy

  • Journaling is "stream of conscious" writing about whatever flows from your mind. Keep notebooks handy to capture these thoughts. No one needs to read or judge it. It can be helpful to track the ups and downs of the illness, empty worries from the mind to paper, and/or record gratitude moments. An overactive brain can lead to feelings of anxiety, confusion, indecision, and mental paralysis. Every thought is a biochemical event that has an effect on body and mind functions.
  • Use self-talk and positive re-affirmations to tell yourself that you are doing the best you can and treat yourself with dignity, respect and love for who you are and not what you can do. Don't apologize for being ill or having limitations.
  • Practice some form of body/mind relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and/or use meditation tapes.
  • Change your outlook—ME/CFS, FM or any other chronic illness will bring people to a fork in the road: one path can lead to bitterness, anger and despair; and the other can bring peace, acceptance, hope, and courage. When you cannot change your circumstances, then the only choice is to change your reaction and attitude. Moreover, changing how you get through daily activities should not take away from your intellect, sense of humor, and overall value. Do not measure your worth by how much can be accomplished. Sometimes your opinion of yourself may be based on inaccurate information or unreasonable expectations.
  • Reduce stress—organize your day so that you can be in control of your time and activities, allow a "cushion" of extra time to minimize rushing. Evaluate if a particular situation warrants the kind of reaction or attention that you're giving it. Walk away from stressful situations that are not yours, and try to avoid toxic people.
  • Seek a support system—when you find that you are becoming more isolated and lonely due to the illness, seek and develop outside sources of support with people who can relate to your situation. Do pay attention to how you behave when receiving support (by not being too pushy, negative, or defensive). Participate in a support group for as long as you feel it is of benefit for you. Try to attend several different groups to find which one has the focus and style most compatible to your needs. However, appreciate the purpose of a support group-it is a "self-help" forum for encouragement, sharing and receiving information and ideas. It is unrealistic for individuals to receive answers to all their specific problems and even find the "cure". People need to realize that each person has his/her unique body chemistry and the results may vary significantly amongst group members. There is no "one path" to recovery. Remember that more often than not, the leaders are also sick, dealing with the same issues, and could use some assistance to keep things going.
  • Spiritual needs—when faced with an emptiness or loss of purpose, focusing on expanding and exploring your spiritual side (not necessarily through organized religion) can be very therapeutic. Prayer and meditation can bring solace, encouragement, and strength.