How to avoid setbacks with M.E/CFS | CFS Health

Set backs are as common as sliced bread when it comes to dealing with a chronic illness like M.E/CFS.

This problem is like one step forwards and then two steps back.

Setbacks are a vicious cycle that is hard to turn around.

However there is a great deal you can learn from having a setback and more importantly preventing it from happening again.

First of all. A setback can be a set up for the betterment of the future. Meaning that if you can learn from the setback you will make sure you don’t do it again. Having an understanding of what has caused your setback can really help implement change and prevent similar setbacks in the future.

One of the most common setbacks is from overdoing it physically.

Post exertion malaise is a common issue among CFS sufferers.

PEM – is where the body is pushed, physically, neurologically the body cannot adapt to the stress stimulus placed upon there for breaks down and creates an onset of fatigue and flare up of symptoms.There for it is important to know your limits and to stick within them initially. We talk a lot about finding your baseline or foundation base which is something you can build from as you build up your strength, stamina and overall well being over time. As your body gets healthier and stronger it can handle more stress stimulus placed upon the body and there for adapt to that added stress and grow stronger.

Know your limits, find your baseline of what you CAN do right now and stick to it. Avoid intense exercise or anything that is outside of your baseline. As you build up you can add more exercise as your body can tolerate more. Constancy over intensity is the key to building up. If your level of health is low, normal daily activities can be enough to set you back. It is important to reassess where you are at and what you CAN handle right now.

Click here to watch the full video on – M.E/CFS and exercise.

Major events or activities – Again if you don’t know your baseline and you push yourself to a major event or activity even if you did not feel well enough to participate you are likely to have a little or big setback. Again it is about knowing what you can and can’t do and building up over time.

Sometimes you have to go to an event or activity or you really want to because it means a lot to you. And that is okay. If it’s a HELL YEAH than do it. Sometimes it is worth the payback. If it isn’t a hell yeah, than say no.

It is also important to state that sometimes when pushing yourself or progressing to the next level you may not experience a setback or any payback. In fact you may well surprise yourself that you can do more than you think.

Go into everything you do with a proactive mind and a perceived positive outcome.

Mental/emotional stress/anxiety – At the end of the day physical or emotional stress is the biggest cause of chronic illness in the world right now and is definitely the biggest factor in set backs. Being in a constantly stressed state will inevitably take its toll. Being in this stress state your sympathetic nervous system is on overdrive. Sometimes being stress and anxious is appropriate. However being in this stress state all the time is not going to be helpful.

You want to get back into a healing relaxed, rest and digest state which is the para-sympathetic nervous system. Both are good at the appropriate times. However you shouldn’t be chasing the perceived tiger all day long.

Fearing setbacks is also not going to help you avoid them.

Remember fear is False, Evidence, Appearing, Real. It usually isn’t reality, it is just your brain imagining a worse outcome that hasn’t even happened yet.

Chronic stress over a long period of time- Sometimes it can be the last straw on the camels back that breaks it. Meaning – chronic long term stress can be a trigger for a set back eventually. And rightly so. It is the body’s way of saying. STOP I NEED HELP. It is never a bad thing. We just need to listen to it.

Lack of quality sleep or poor nutrition can also be a factor in having set backs.

Ultimately a holistic approach is needed.

Being aware and conscious of your setbacks is a good starting point.

Writing down what you have been up to day to day and pin pointing what is/isn’t working. This way you can figure out exactly what you should and shouldn’t be doing so you can further improve where you are at.

Aim to not make the same mistake twice. Learn from the set-back and move forwards from it. Be grateful for what you learn and then improve from it.

Avoiding setbacks is whole other ball game.

Having the right structure/routine and specific baseline is important to stay consistent and continue to manage and progress your health, energy and stamina.

Having a coach, mentor or supportive professional Doctor that keeps you accountable and helps you stay on track is vital too. Never underestimate the use of help from other people. Make sure that the person or people you are working with understand you, have a good understanding of M.E/CFS and can help you move forwards.

All in all – having the right plan, guidance, knowing and education is key to recovery and self improvement.

To get help and learn more about recovery and follow our free daily coaching emails click here.

Toby Morrison
Toby Morrison
At age 16 Toby was diagnosed with CFS. According to Dr Lionel Lubitz (head doctor at the Royal Childrens Hospital), Toby’s case of CFS was “the worst he’d ever seen”. Initially spending 4 weeks at the inpatient hospital program, Toby’s journey back to health was long and difficult, but he found a way and now dedicates his life to helping others achieve the same. Toby is the founder of the CFS Health Centre in Melbourne and has released a book on CFS