A Simple Way to Feel More Joy and Peace
When You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia

Image of woman feeling gratitude

Let the sun burst through the clouds.

It can be challenging to keep up your spirits as, on a daily basis, you have to face your symptoms and possibly other illness-related hardships, such as loss of relationships or financial stress.

Therefore I want to share with you a simple technique for filling up your reserves of emotional energy. The technique is called “making a gratitude list”.

I made my first gratitude list at a time when I was still so ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) that I thought I would never be able to work or exercise again, and was sure my partner would abandon me. While I was slow to discover aspects of my life to be grateful for at first, I eventually discovered more and more as I stuck with the practice. When I contemplated what I was grateful for, it helped me to forget for a moment all that I was lacking.

Over the last four years of looking out for little things in my life to be grateful for, feeling grateful has become second nature, and now I can count on it as a continued source of positive emotional energy.

If you want this too, have a look with me at this simple technique for feeling better: [Read more…]

How to Let Go of Anger (and Regret) –
And Why It’s Important in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia

Sometimes feel angry? Learn how to reduce your symptoms by letting go of it.

Sometimes feel angry? Learn how to feel better (and likely reduce your symptoms along the way).

Andrew, an airline pilot, was troubled by anger and regret when he thought about how his company had let him down when he had gotten sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME / CFS).

Even though he loved his job and did his very best to excel in it, he had always needed to take slightly more sick days than his colleagues. Sometimes, due to jet-lag, he hadn’t been able to sleep the night before a flight and had therefore felt too tired to safely fly his passenger airplane. His company, instead of supporting him in flying only when he felt well and rested, had put pressure on him and treated him with disrespect.

With pain and indignation, Andrew still remembered his boss’ face when he had been ordered into his office and spoken to as if he were a child.  “How can my boss talk to me like that?” Andrew said visibly shaken during one of our coaching sessions.

This painful memory still kept Andrew awake at night—not only because the associated emotion was very intense, but also because his sensitivity to stress had increased since he had come down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (as is common in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia).

How Andrew let go of his hurt and anger

To help Andrew sleep better, we looked at ways for him to let go of the painful memory and move on. We settled on a technique inspired by a process called “The Work” from world-renowned therapist and healer Byron Katie.

Let me walk you through the five steps of this technique (10-20min), so that you, too, can use it to let go of old feelings, memories, and thoughts that no longer serve you. [Read more…]

How to Enjoy a Vacation Even Though You Have ME / CFS or Fibromyalgia

Seven tips for how to make the most of a vacation -- despite your limitations

Seven tips for how to make the most of a vacation — despite your limitations

Did you go on a vacation this summer?

If yes, how was it?

The reason I’m asking is that it’s likely that some things were great, but other things might have been challenging. Life with ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia isn’t always easy, and going on vacation is no exception.

And when is a better time to ensure that next year’s vacation will be even better than this year’s? Right now, when your memories are still fresh!

Let’s take a moment to reflect then.

First, I’ll share with you seven easy-to-use tips I’ve gathered from my coaching clients’ and my own experiences over this past summer. [Read more…]

How to Transform Loneliness or Sadness into Peace and Joy

woman with fibromyalgia transforming difficult emotions

Make this Christmas a happy one.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Just the the thought of how my family and I gather around our real-candle-lit Christmas tree with songs, love, and stories makes me happy.

Although I love Christmas, my first Christmas after coming down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was tough. The feast of love triggered in me difficult emotions, such as sadness, loneliness, and feelings of loss.

Why do difficult emotions come up on Christmas?

Participating in the Christmas celebrations requires a lot of energy. It’s not uncommon for sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia to have our internal energy run out even before the first course of the Christmas meal ends. As a result, we might notice a light headache set in, and our general level of fatigue worsens.

In order to cope, we really should rest for a few minutes—but it’s painful to retreat from the life and laughter of our loved family. The first minutes in our room on our own can be overwhelmingly lonely. We miss our family and, to make matters worse, we now fully feel the symptoms we were able to drown out with excitement and laughter when we were still with our family.

Also, if you’re like me, you have a very clear idea of what your favorite Christmases have been like in the past, and what this year’s celebration should look, feel, and—Yum!—taste like.

However, because of your symptoms (such as fatigue or pain), reality doesn’t quite live up to your expectations. In my case, the joy of Christmas was marred by my usual tired and wired feeling and brain fog (in fibromyalgia, this is often referred to as fibro fog). Our traditional Christmas meal, “Heringsalad”, still tasted as good as it used to—but  my stomach no longer tolerated it.

In short, we remember how awesome Christmas used to be and we miss the good ol’ times. As a result, a feeling of loss is triggered, which can add to the loneliness or sadness.

Release difficult emotions and experience peace

Knowing how difficult Christmas emotions can be, I want to share with you a guided meditation which I’ve created to support you in releasing negative emotions and transforming them into a feeling of peace and well-being. I hope it will allow you, after only 20 minutes of deep rest, to rejoin the Christmas celebration with renewed energy and joy.

Free Guided Meditation

Access the guided meditation here. If you can, shove it on your iPod, so that you have easy access to it when you need it most.

Tip #1: Don’t wait until Christmas to begin releasing and transforming negative emotions. Just as a sailor needs to learn sailing before he faces a storm, you want to be practice with the guided meditation in calm waters, before facing a storm of difficult emotions.

Tip #2: If you liked this article, you can ensure that you won’t miss any future goodness by signing up for my free newsletter here or in the orange box below.

Merry Christmas!!!

Why Is Pacing So Hard? And One Simple Technique to Make It Easy

Picture of woman who doesn't like pacing to manage her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Taking breaks when you don’t want to is hard.

“I hate pacing!”

It didn’t take long after we had begun the discussion part of the San Francisco Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Self Help group meeting until a woman started railing passionately against pacing:

“I know I should use pacing, but if I just lived my life in the confinements and limits of my illness, my life would no longer be worth living anyways. Sure, it hurts me not to take breaks, but I believe that this life force in me, that just wants me to be active, is a good thing, and I shouldn’t repress it by pacing myself too much.”

All of us in the room could sympathize. Pacing is hard!  It is frustrating when—despite our fatigue—we got ourselves into cooking a healthy meal, cleaning our house, or making a shopping list and we have to stop again after only a few moments of flow, because otherwise we’d over-exhaust ourselves and exacerbate our symptoms.

Personally, although I consider myself functionally fully recovered, the one part of my life that I still notice myself complain about is that I have to pace myself by taking intermittent breaks throughout my day (or the Thanksgiving dinner).

Do the following thoughts, which go through my head when I coax myself into a twenty-minute rest, sound familiar?

“When I rest I have to face all of the unpleasant sensations in my body, I’d rather drown them out by eating some more turkey.“

“It’s so much fun with my family. I won’t be able to stand the loneliness in my room when I leave the thanksgiving dinner table.”

Or on days that are not holidays:

“When I rest it’s going to be terrible, I’ll lose all the great ideas that I just had and wanted to act on.”

“I can’t rest because I’m so into what I’m currently doing that if I stop now, it will take me forever to get back into the flow of doing it. “

The above thoughts hint at why pacing is so hard. So how do you make it easy?

Although I haven’t completely “solved” the problem of pacing, over the last five years I have discovered several ways to make it a lot easier. I have to admit that, even when I use these techniques, I don’t always enjoy the process of stopping. However my techniques are good and enjoyable enough, so that at least, I no longer avoid pacing. This is a BIG DEAL: I mentioned in my previous article how important pacing is for healing in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. I believe it is important to make pacing fun enough, so that we no longer avoid it, but make a rock-solid commitment to actually doing  it.

Here is a simple, three-step process that helped me in overcoming my aversion to pacing: [Read more…]

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