For myself and for many of our clients, learning how to effectively manage CFS/ME symptoms is only part of the path to recovery. In our workshops, Pete and I often observe our clients and see the light bulbs ping on, as they realise how their actions, behaviours, beliefs and lifestyles have been aggravating their symptoms and as they learn what they can do to effectively impact on their symptoms. It is a great feeling for us, and also for our clients who often arrive at the workshop the next day ready to take on the world. But it is at this point that we often have to advise them to rein things in and it was the same for me during my journey back to full health.
There comes a point in time when you can’t believe how good you are feeling, both physically and mentally and you just want to move the body that has felt so awful for so long and delight in the newly regained feeling of health. However, it is important at this stage to remember that your fitness levels have been severely compromised for being ill for often a long period of time. You can easily and quickly learn how to reduce and manage your symptoms to increase your health and well-being (our three day intensive workshops our testament to this) but getting your fitness levels back takes time. During those long days and nights I spent feeling exhausted, achy and without hope, my muscles were slowly atrophying though lack of use. Lack of exercise meant that my vital organs were not used to capacity and so my fitness levels suffered. Like any athlete who has not exercised for a considerable period of time, you cannot expect to run a marathon without building up slowly and this is exactly what I had to do. It was frustrating at times, as my mindset knew that I was over ME for good, but my physical body just needed a bit of nurturing to get it back to full fitness.
So the journey to fitness would start with frustratingly very slow and short walks with Pete and our dog. Pete would drive us to the local reservoir or woods and Pete would stride off into the distance, whilst I ambled on at the rear with Sky, our dog, running between us. After those first few walks I felt like I had run a marathon, my body was so out of condition. The normal fear would creep up on me; does this mean that I am relapsing? It took Pete to help me take a breath and gain some clarity to realise that what I was experiencing was what any healthy but unfit person would experience under the circumstances.
I also struggled with thoughts of fear and guilt; ‘what if someone from work sees me?’ This is a really common thought pattern in our experience, which many people with CFS and ME experience during their recovery. For me, using EFT and tapping on these feelings was really helpful and allowed me to enjoy my journey back to fitness rather than sapping my energy by focusing on negative emotions. This is one of the reasons we teach you how to use EFT on our workshops as a tool to help you with similar thought patterns which may be impeding your recovery.
Over time, slowly and gradually the walks became easier and more effortless and I could feel my muscles gaining strength and my stamina increasing. We have seen similar results with our clients; walking seems to be a great exercise to help us to regain our fitness levels. There are lots of benefits associated with walking, including strengthening the heart and lungs and increasing overall fitness, as well as improving lower body muscle endurance as well as muscle strength. But as importantly are the psychological benefits of walking. When you walk your body releases a chemical called of serotonin, which is the natural feel good chemical. There is also a release of feel good hormones called endorphins. Both of which mean that you feel good at the end of a walk and should encourage you to keep going on your journey back to health and well-being 🙂
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