Although it can sometimes feel relaxing, this is not the aim of mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment, without judgement. This can help to reduce anxiety, making it less likely you will get caught up in past hurts or worries about the future. Given that the topic this week is stress management, mindfulness deserves a mention. Bringing mindfulness practice into your daily routine can help you to manage the challenges of daily life with chronic fatigue.
Mindfulness allows you to be present and engage fully in what you’re doing. This often involves being able to sit with and tolerate your physical and emotional discomfort. Paradoxically, when we allow discomfort to come and go naturally, it tends to lessen in intensity. Struggling with discomfort, on the other hand, tends to make it worse. Mindfulness practice allows you to pay attention to your reality without getting caught up in unhelpful thoughts about it.
Mindfulness has been linked to symptom improvement in people with chronic fatigue. Specifically, it has been found to decrease the intensity and severity of chronic fatigue symptoms and reduce the impact they have on daily functioning. It has also been linked with reduced anxiety, depression, and the subjective experience of fatigue, and better overall quality of life. As you’ll see below, adding mindfulness practice into your daily routine can be relatively simple, but it has the potential to create significant change.
Here are a few examples of how mindfulness may help with chronic fatigue:
- Mindfulness helps you manage stress and anxiety, which play a role in maintaining your symptoms.
- Mindfulness can reduce tension and help you better manage symptoms like muscle pain and headaches.
- Mindfulness can help you let go of unhelpful and worrisome thoughts that worsen your symptoms.
- Mindfulness makes you less emotionally reactive and better able to tolerate your physical symptoms.
- Mindfulness can cause physical changes in the brain and body that alter processes involved in your chronic fatigue (e.g., immune system functioning, inflammation and the stress response).