I had a very busy week-end and start to the week, and found myself crashing yesterday. Today I am quite a bit better, but trying to use my energy cautiously. It is actually a pretty good result to only crash for 1 day. Perhaps my new routine is helping. I've been doing 15-20 minutes of gentle yoga most days. Yoga seems to be the thing for me that really makes a difference.
I only started doing yoga after I was diagnosed with CFS, and for a year or two I was able to attend a gentle beginners class with only a few “extra rests” to see me through. That period of time corresponds with the time when I was most well – but whether the yoga resulted in the wellness, or the wellness meant I could do yoga, well, of course it’s not really possible to say for sure.
Unfortunately, I had to give up the classes when I was trying to be relatively medication-free, and a lot of my symptoms became a lot worse. And although I’ve been back on the meds for over 4 years now, there’s been such a lot happening emotionally that I haven’t given the classes a try again.
About 2 months ago, driven crazy by the worsening of my migraines to once or twice a week, I decided to try some gentle stretching here at home. My headaches are caused by a variety of things – hormones, stress, posture, fatigue – and can easily trigger migraines.
And I have to say that since starting regular yoga, headache-wise there is a noticeable improvement.
I’ve only read a little about yoga, but it comes from the Hindu faith, although I was happy to read that you don’t have to be a “believer” to attain the benefits. It is an approach which definitely works with the body, mind and spirit in an holistic and integrated way – and this just seems to be what my body needs. I find the stretches can ease away a lot of pain, before it builds up too far.
The other thing I have been trying to do regularly (not quite as successfully) is to journal or write. I’m not aiming for the “morning pages” thing of 3 pages everyday recommended in “The Artists Way”. My aim is a little bit different, in that I don’t usually just write whatever comes into my head, or set a target number of pages. I prefer to write down whatever it is that I have noticed I am ruminating about.
From practising awareness meditation, I’ve come to observe my thoughts reasonably well, so I use my writing to just dive in and write down the prevalent issue. Then I devote a little time to working it through, or if it is the sort of thing with no real solution (as is often the case with repetitive thoughts) I just write about how I feel.
As an occupational therapist, I was trained in the medical model, and although for OT it isn’t a great fit, I am naturally wary of “unproved” treatments and approaches. Nevertheless, I’ve been observing what happens in my body for long enough to know that the separation of mind and body touted in western medicine is a false way of thinking. How many times do you hear people say “I’ve got this important project at work and I’m really swamped, and now I have the flu – as if I don’t have enough to deal with already?” Well, yes exactly, and maybe that is why you have the flu right now?
I think the yoga and the writing are helping me to be more aware, to keep things moving and not build up emotional blockages in my body. I know I’ve taught myself to suppress emotions so well that in the past I haven’t even been aware that an issue is an issue until a migraine or some other physical symptom pulled me up with a crash. Now if I can just overcome the very human urge to give up on a routine that is working well for me…