December 20, 2012
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) in the US and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) in the UK, is a disease characterized by persistent, disabling fatigue, often made worse by exercise. CFS sufferers also commonly complain of muscle and joint pain.
CFS is believed to affect between two and four people in every thousand, and has been responsible for many hours of lost workplace productivity. It has even resulted in the premature end of promising professional careers. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies CFS as a disease of the neurological system. However, it is also typical for CFS patients to display symptoms of endocrine disturbances, including a form of adrenal fatigue. The medical community is uncertain about the precise cause of the disease, and many believe that CFS will eventually be viewed as a number of distinct conditions with similar symptomology rather than as a single illness.
There are several criteria employed for the diagnosis of CFS, but the most commonly used is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 1994 definition, which sets out the following conditions for confirmation of the illness:
- Ongoing severe fatigue for more than six months that is not the result of another medical condition and which significantly affects work and daily life.
- The presence of at least four of the following eight symptoms:
- post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours
- unrefreshing sleep
- short-term memory or concentration problems
- muscle pain (myalgia)
- joint pain
- tender lymph nodes
- frequent or recurring sore throat
Other commonly observed symptoms that are not included in the diagnostic criteria include:
- digestive disturbances (constipation and diarrhea),
- chest pain,
- weight loss,
- night sweats,
- shortness of breath,
- irregular heartbeat,
- panic attacks and
Some CFS patients go on to make a full recovery, although many never retain their previous level of wellness and experience some or all of the symptoms for the remainder of their lives. Age at onset and time until diagnosis are believed to be key indicators of recovery success.
Mainstream treatments tend to focus on the management of behavior and negative thinking to assist recovery. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Graded Exercise Therapy (GET), consisting of controlled, gradually increasing levels of activity, are examples of this kind of approach, both of which have also been subject to a large amount of scientific research.
Given the lack of conventional treatment options, many CFS patients turn to complementary health therapies for help with both individual symptoms and overall recovery. Widely used treatments include herbal medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, nutritional advice, gentle yoga, meditation, massage and chiropractic adjustment. None of these is believed to provide an outright cure, but can help the body to effect its own healing. The UK physician, Paul Sherwood, author of the book "Your Back, Your Health", has suggested that some cases of CFS may result from poor spinal health, which can be successfully treated using spinal manipulation techniques. Since there are many anecdotal accounts of CFS onset following physical trauma such as that resulting from traffic accidents, this is not an outlandish proposal.
Recently, a series of related mind-body treatments such as Reverse Therapy, The Lighting Process and the Amygdala Retraining Technique have been developed with promising results. Since CFS is known to affect both mind and body, it would not be surprising to learn that these therapies can be effective.
For most patients suffering from CFS, the best treatment options are still those that provide their bodies with the best possible conditions for recovery to occur, including healthy eating, gentle exercise and maintaining good posture and movement.
January 25, 2009
There is never going to be a time in your life when you are not dealing with some sort of stress. Even when you go on vacation you are still dealing with a little of it. What you may not know is that there is good stress and bad stress. The problem with this is that most of us have way too much of the bad type and the good type seems to be just as bad. If you deal with stress on the job each day, there are some things you can do to help yourself get through it without damaging your health or your relationships.
Good stress is the type that keeps us alive and helps us make good decisions. If you have this type of stress on the job, it helps you do the best that you can and can even stop you from making mistakes. Stress makes us think, and that is something that everyone should do before they being their daily activities. There is also bad stress on the job, and that is the kind that you want to find ways to avoid for your own well being.
There are many sources of stress on the job that can bring you down and keep you down all of the time if you let it. You can carry that stress home and take things out on the ones that you love the most. They may think that you are moody and worked up all of the time, and are perhaps wound a little too tight. If that is the case, you are not going to have a happy home life. You have to learn to lessen your stress on the job, and then learn to leave what is left of it at the office when you go home at night. Everyone will be happier for it.
You can first identify what things bring about the most stress on the job for you. It could be something like getting little or no help from coworkers when they are supposed to be contributing to projects. This can get to you if it goes on indefinitely. You may not get many brownie points, but you should talk with a superior about it. Don’t complain, just explain that you are getting a little overwhelmed because you could use more help. You may also be hearing more about people’s personal lives than you want to hear, and that means you can get involved in idle gossip. Do what you can to avoid it and you can take away from your stress on the job.
Other stress on the job is not so easy to get away from. You may not have a good relationship with your boss for whatever reason. That means you have a bad feeling before you even get to your job. You may also find that you are not happy with your work because it is far below where you should be in your career. That makes stress on the job even harder to handle. In those cases, you should strongly consider looking for work elsewhere so you can bring some sanity back into your life.
December 21, 2008
Combatting work related stress: a formula for a happier, healthier you!
Americans work more hours than in almost any other developed country. Job security is fast becoming the number one concern of many workers, so employees are far more likely to work extra hours in hopes of making their employment status more secure, as well as, in the case of hourly workers, bringing in a little extra income. The term, work related stress, is now a common term in everyone’s vocabulary. With the dismal economic statistics we hear on the news every day, the work related stress syndrome is something that concerns us all.
It’s well known that stress affects our health and family life. At the very least, you may become irritable, snapping at your spouse and kids. You may suffer from more frequent minor illnesses, from headaches to colds and flus, due to a lowered immune system response. Stress can have more serious effects, leading to high blood pressure, depression, or digestive problems. However, the work related stress syndrome seems to be unavoidable these days. The question is, what can you do to combat this condition?
Some employers are now offering flex time schedules, which benefits both the employee and employer. While a 4-day, 40 hour week makes for a longer day, on the plus side, you’ve got 3 days off and you save on driving time and gas as well. If your employer is putting such a program in place, taking advantage of this option can help ease your stress levels.
Making time for yourself is the most important component in combatting work related stress. You may well say, “I don’t have enough time as it is, how am I supposed to make more hours in a day?” The short answer is, you can and should. If you get up just an hour earlier, before your regular activities begin, this can be a life saver. This quiet time of day, spent on something you enjoy, can be just as restful as that extra hour of sleep. Even if all you do is take a cup of coffee or tea and sit by a window, enjoying the quiet and a beautiful sunrise, before beginning the hustle and bustle routine, you’ll feel more relaxed for the rest of the day.
Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, prayer, yoga and tai-chi, can go a long way to reducing your work related stress. Any of these methods will reduce anxiety, bring a feeling of well-being and counter elevated blood pressure, all of which results in better health over time.
After work, instead of plopping down in front of the television, try listening to music or reading. If you must watch TV, watch a comedy instead of the news. Laughter is, indeed, good medicine. Play a game of chess with a family member, or enjoy a game of cards. The idea is to engage in some activity which stimulates your mind and which does not have any relationship to work. Take a long, relaxing bath and pamper yourself a bit. While work related stress is a fact of life, this period of play time effectively makes this syndrome a smaller problem.
You say, “How am I to find the time? I barely have time for a shower!” Which brings us to delegating. If you’ve got kids, shift some of the daily chores to a new area of responsibility for them. Making lunches, cleaning up after dinner, changing their own sheets and laundering them are chores which are good for them! Sooner or later, they’ll need to take responsibility for themselves. This strategy helps them develop responsibility and prepares them for real life. Meanwhile, you gain a little time to relax. You’ll also probably be nicer about asking them to pick up their room!
Worry over finances is another bugaboo we can lay at the door of the work related stress syndrome. Organizing your budget on a spreadsheet, planning menus and having a calendar to keep track of doctor appointments, school events and the like helps promote a sense of control of your life. It doesn’t make the bills go away, but knowing where you stand reduces stress. Disorganized finances creates anxiety and increased stress.
Get some regular exercise. Engage in some exercise you enjoy, every day. Exercise releases endorphins, that naturally produced chemical that creates a feeling of well being.
Last, an occasional getaway helps you forget about your worries, work and gives you a new and fresh perspective on life.
If you use all of these suggestions, you may not eliminate work related stress, but you’ll surely minimize it. You will be happier and more relaxed, I promise you!
December 16, 2008
Stressed out has become part of our everyday language. Fifty years ago, had you told someone you were stressed out, they wouldn’t have known what you were talking about and might even have questioned your knowledge of grammar! Rare is the individual today who doesn’t get stressed out at least once a day. Stress can lead to severe health problems, particularly with the ‘type A’ personality. Besides, stress produces unpleasant feelings in the body, headaches, as well as causing us to snap at others without reason. While your doctor might prescribe a medication to calm you down, it’s always best to avoid prescription medicines if you can. Here we offer five natural treatments for stress. They all work, so you can pick and choose as the mood strikes you. Of course, if you’re really stressed out, do all five!
- Physical exercise of any kind is one of the great treatments for stress. If it’s raining, get out the vacuum and give that rug the old one-two. Go over and over that rug until it’s sparkling clean and you’ve taken that stress factor out on it, not the kids or your spouse. Surely there’s a spot in the yard that needs to be weeded within an inch of it’s life. Other physical tasks, like cleaning out the hall closet, can prove sufficiently distracting so that you’ll be automatically diverted from whatever got you stressed. You also get satisfaction from how clean it is.
- Journal writing is another of the time-honored treatments for stress. No, you don’t need to be a writer to take advantage of this treatment. Maybe it’s your boss or spouse who jumped on your case about whatever. Biting your tongue is what caused this stress, so now is the time to express yourself! Give that so-and-so all of your thoughts on the topic in your (private) journal. Works like a charm!
- Lavender is an old time treatment for stress and is especially effective with stress headaches. For this remedy, there are several avenues. You can take a nap, lying on a lavender filled pillow, or you can make or buy a lavender filled eye cover. You can also take a few whiffs of essential oil of lavender and/or dab a drop on each of your temples.
- Some treatments for stress should be interactive. Here’s a variation on the journal writing entries. Write an email to a good friend and vent. Tell your friend up front to take it with a grain of salt. After all, we shouldn’t take life too seriously too often. Have your venting. By the time you’re done, you’ll probably feel better already. You can send it or not, as your mood dictates. Ask for a funny joke or cartoon in their response. This way, you get a laugh too. Good for the soul.
- Here’s the be all and end all of natural treatments for stress: every time you feel yourself getting stressed out, make a note, in your journal, of what triggered the event. After just a few weeks, you’ll see a pattern. Do you constantly worry about money? Your weight? Does someone at work drive you crazy? Not enough hours in the day? Once you’ve discovered your common stress triggers, implement a plan to eliminate these stress factors. Make a strict budget. Lose weight. Ignore, or make friends with that work mate. Whatever works.
These five natural treatments for stress do work. Try them, you’ll like them!
December 14, 2008
There are plenty of sources of stress in the world today. As the old saying goes, “there’s no need to look for trouble, because trouble will find you all on its own.” All of us have troubles and worries, deadlines to meet and busy schedules. Along with all these stresses, few of us even have time to kick back and relax. Do you suffer from anxiety? Do you long for ways to ease your anxious moods and relax for just a little while? There are a number of relaxation techniques that take little time and are highly effective. Some may be done anywhere, even at work.
When you’re feeling distraught, for whatever reason, your body takes the “fight or flight” stance, causing a rush of adrenalin that induces an increased heart rate and shallow breathing. Correct breathing is key to successful relaxation techniques.
Breathing exercises are quite effective, bringing quick results when you find yourself suddenly anxious. Some people are especially prone to anxiety attacks, which can occur for no apparent reason. Even if you’re aware of the cause, anxiety attacks are unpleasant and may cause heart palpitations and a sensation of tightening in the throat, sometimes to the point of making it difficult to swallow.
The old-fashioned remedy of breathing slowly into a paper bag works amazingly well to relax you and restore proper breathing. Another version of this relaxation technique involves taking slow deep breaths. At first you may find you need to force yourself to breathe slowly, but persist and you’ll soon be back to normal.
Among other relaxation techniques are those classified as meditation. All major religions have a form of meditation that followers may use to commune with their creator. Examples of this discipline include Christian, Sufi, Hindu and Kaballah meditation. All meditative disciplines are excellent relaxation techniques when practiced regularly, bringing a sense of comfort and overall well being. Prayers may also serve you as effective relaxation techniques.
Plain old physical exercise is yet another way to relax. Choose an activity you enjoy and set aside a little time each day, preferably at the same time of day, to engage in this activity. Whether you’re walking, bicycling, swimming or just doing a half hour workout, you’ll find physical exercise to be an outstanding form of available relaxation techniques.
You may also try taking a yoga class. Yoga integrates slow movements of the body with breathing exercises. It’s easy to get hooked on yoga, both as a relaxation technique and a great body shaper. Yoga exercises tend to lengthen muscles, resulting in a supple and flexible body you’ll enjoy.
Relaxation techniques don’t necessarily have to involve a disciplined approach in order to be successful. You can kick back on your couch, get out the remote and find yourself a good comedy. Laughter is good medicine!