How to Evaluate Your Experiment and
Improve Your Health as a Result

“I think the two hours I spent on that analysis [of my experiment] was the most productive time in my experience with CFS. I haven’t had a relapse since.”
~ Bruce Campell

In this week’s lesson, you’ll learn everything you need to know to feel as good about evaluating your experiment as ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia self-help pioneer Bruce Campbell does.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How to avoid the #1 roadblock I experienced with regards to evaluating my experiments.
  • How to evaluate your experiment to gain great insights into how you can get better (how-to video with real-life example).
  • How to gain more than one insight from one experiment
  • How to make sure that you’ll continue to benefit from your insights for the rest of your life.

Cool, huh? Ok then; let’s get started right away

How to avoid the #1 roadblock to successfully evaluating your experiment

For me, the biggest problem with evaluating my experiments was that I would never actually do it, because I found the task too overwhelming. That was unfortunate because there are so many valuable insights we can glean from our experiment (remember the quote from Bruce Campbell above!)

One of the best ways to ensure that you won’t procrastinate on analyzing your experiment is to schedule a meeting with a friend, or health coach specializing in ME/CFS or FM.

If evaluating an experiment seems overwhelming to you, please take a minute to schedule a 1-hour or two 30-min meetings in which to evaluate your experiment with a friend, family member, or therapist. Email or call them now.

The eight steps to evaluating your experiment

Some people do the process of evaluating an experiment intuitively; others find it helpful to have step-by-step guidance. I will provide this step-by-step guidance in this part of the lesson, hoping that it will make evaluating your experiment easier for you to understand and less overwhelming.

Later in this lesson, I’ve provided a written-out list of the eight steps of evaluating an experiment, so that you can use them to evaluate your own experiment. To learn how to use those eight steps, watch these two videos in which I’ll explain each of the eight steps with a hands-on example.

Video example of step one through five


Can’t see the video? Go here: http://www.screencast.com/t/zKSROql4JQCo

Video example of step six through eight


Can’t see the video? Go here: http://www.screencast.com/t/fC4rZAgY

These are the eight steps I used to evaluate my experiment. Skim over them and then follow the instructions below to evaluate your own experiment.

  1. What was the initial question around which you designed your experiment (reminder: lesson nine was all about designing your experiment)? Write it on a piece of paper.
    The reason why you conducted your experiment in the first place was likely that you wanted to learn how to improve your condition, or at least one of the symptoms or challenges related to it. You conducted the experiment to get an answer to a question, such as one of these:

    • How does exercise affect my levels of fatigue?
    • How can I reduce brain fog?
    • How can I be happy even when I’m having a bad day?
    Example:

    For a hands-on example of this step, watch the example video above. I talk about this step in the beginning of the first video.

  2. Identify the symptom, problem, or challenge that is central to your experiment. Write it on your piece of paper.
    For help, watch minute 0:50 of the first instructional video.
  3. Highlight the column of your experiment tracking sheet that corresponds to your central symptom, challenge, or problem.
    For an example, watch minute 1:15 of the first instructional video.
  4. Look for and highlight any change in your central symptom, problem, or challenge.
    Watch minute 1:49 of the first instructional video to see an example of this step.
  5. Next, look for causes that could influence your central symptom, challenge, or problem.
    For an example, watch minute 2:43 of the first instructional video.
  6. Isolate one cause to begin with.
    For an example, watch minute 0:27 of the second instructional video.
  7. Look for correlations between your isolated cause and your core symptom.
    For an example, watch minute 0:51 of the second instructional video.
  8. On your piece of paper, write down the insight you’ve just gained.
    For an example, watch minute 2:58 of the second instructional video.
Now it’s your turn. Evaluate your first experiment by completing the eight steps above.

How to gain many more insights from the same experiment

Excitingly, one experiment can contain enough data for more than one insight. You can gain more than one insight from your experiment by simply repeating the eight steps for another question.

Hear me talk about it at minute 4:35 of the Video example of step six th  rough eight.

How to benefit from your insights for the rest of your life

While it is one thing to have an insight, remembering your insight in the situation where you need it most is a different thing altogether.

For example, after a summer vacation last year, I experienced a dip (a period of reduced energy and increased symptoms). During the trip, I exceeded my limits for physical exercise, so for six days following the trip, I suffered from post-exertional malaise and was much more fatigued than usual. I felt tired, disheartened, unmotivated, and dissatisfied.

Three days into my dip, I remembered a few insights, things that had helped me feel better during previous dips, such as doing everything in “Mini-steps,” blocking my internet, and reducing my work hours. It took me three days into my dip to remember these things—three days of unnecessarily feeling disheartened, unmotivated, and dissatisfied.

It’s a common problem of people with a chronic illness to not remember what has helped them in the past. Therefore I’ve developed two strategies to remind us of the insights and techniques we need when we need them most.

  1. Whenever you discover something that works, write it down immediately, so that you remember it later on.
    Example:

    A few things that I wrote down lately are, for example, that exercising for 30 minutes feels good to me and that using mindfulness techniques helps me to stay centered while I cook dinner.

    I also write down any treatment I’ve tried, regardless of whether it worked for me. In case I experience a relapse or switch doctors, I want to be able to recall what treatments I’ve tried already and how I reacted to them.

  2. Write “How to” documents for specific situations. During my journey of overcoming Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I’ve conducted many experiments and have thus discovered many valuable insights.

    Further, I’ve noticed that specific situations, such as taking a shower or going food shopping, require a certain approach for me to master them without getting fatigued and overwhelmed.That’s why I’ve created another set of documents for myself, called “How to” documents. I keep a “How to” document for almost everything that I do in a day.

    Example:

    After lots of experiments I’ve learned how to shower without getting tired and flustered. Whenever I forget my ways, I can read about it in my How to Shower document.

    Also, I found a way to leave the house without triggering overwhelm or anxiety, which I’ve written down in my How to Do Food Shopping document and posted it next to my door.

    What is a situation that you frequently struggle with?

    Write your first “How to” document on how to successfully master that situation. Include in your document any insights you’ve gained about yourself in the past. If you haven’t gained enough insights to write a convincing “How to” document, continue experimenting until you have.

    Here is an extra tip for finding your “How to” documents when they need them:

    I’ve saved all my “How to” documents on my computer. When I am in a challenging situation, I press the Windows key (press the Mac key when you’re on a Mac) and type in the search box, “How to [insert situation]”. Magically, the right “How to” document pops up. It even works on my smart phone. I’ve saved all my “How to” documents in my Dropbox folder, which syncs them to the cloud and allows me to quickly pull them up on my smart phone using my Dropbox App.

Conducting experiments, evaluating them, and having access to my “How to” documents at the right time, has been essential to my regaining health and happiness. May it help you just as much as it helped me, or more!

Best to your health,
Johannes' Signature

P.S.

If you’ve got here without being subscribed to the free CFS Recovery Project E-Course, you’re missing out. This is lesson #11 on how to reach your maximum health and happiness potential if you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia. If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to learn more about it.

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