8 Tips for Coping with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
Individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) face challenges such as fatigue, memory/concentration problems, and pain. These challenges can affect daily activities, relationships, and overall well-being. However, several coping strategies can help manage the condition. Below are 8 tips for living and coping with ME/CFS.
- Balance activities with rest. Extra time should be allotted when planning mentally or physically taxing activities to allow for breaks during and between tasks. Prioritizing rest, even on days when symptoms are minimal, can help prevent a relapse or energy crash later.
- Use memory aids. If memory loss due to ME/CFS is an issue, it is helpful to use tools such as calendars, to-do lists, programmed reminders on a smartphone, and sticky notes.
- Save energy when possible. Making small adjustments, such as sitting while washing dishes or using a wheelchair or electric cart in the grocery store, can preserve valuable energy.
- Find enjoyable, low-energy activities. While participating in the same activities that were once enjoyed may not be possible, engaging in low-energy hobbies and activities can be just as fulfilling. Examples of low-energy activities include reading, playing board games, crafting, and watching movies.
- Make dietary adjustments. Consuming a diet low in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats and high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats is good for overall health. Other dietary changes that may help reduce symptoms of ME/CFS include eliminating artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and caffeine. Eating several small meals throughout the day rather than three large meals may also help reduce symptoms.
- Engage in physical activity. Regular movement, such as walking or stretching, is important for both physical and mental health. However, overexertion should be avoided. A few short sessions of physical activity spread throughout the day are usually tolerated better than one long session. Interval exercise, such as one minute of activity followed by three minutes of rest, may also help.
- Prioritize sleep. Getting enough sleep is especially important for individuals with ME/CFS. Practicing sleep hygiene, such as sticking to a consistent sleep schedule and keeping the bedroom quiet and dark, can promote good sleep.
- Get support when needed. Dealing with ME/CFS can be isolating. It is often difficult for family members, friends, and co-workers to understand. Joining a support group or talking to a therapist can help.