ME/CFS and Surrendering to Taking It Easy

Since my ‘crash’ forced me to face up to the fact that I’d been trying to do too much I’ve chosen to focus on looking after myself and taking it easy. Once again, I pushed it back up to the top of the priority list. I never deliberately removed it from prime position, I just lost focus and didn’t notice that I was starting to put other things first. I’ve not just renewed my decision to put my health first; I’ve decided to commit to it fully!

Instead of waking up thinking ‘what do I need to do today?’ I think about ‘how can I make today as relaxed as possible?’ ‘What kind of rest can I have when?’ I allocate a little time to doing stuff but with an important proviso: I will only do it, if I feel like it at the time. If my body or mind is resisting the task in any way, I will not force it. Neither will I allow myself to think about what I can get finished in what time frame. My focus is on doing things in a relaxed effortless manner. My goal is to surrender to taking it easy.

My first experience with this illness taught me that relaxed effortlessness is key to giving my body the best chance to heal itself. But it’s so easy to get distracted from this goal either by desires to live life more fully or perceived external demands. One benefit of a ‘crash’ is that it provides a fresh opportunity to renew your commitment to taking it easy; to put looking after yourself back at the top of your priority list above having a life! They are both important but the reason that they need to be in that order is that only by optimising wellbeing will we have the energy we need to have a life!

What I really want to talk about though is how much making this commitment has really paid off for me this week. I haven’t had to give up on productivity. I’ve only had to give up on putting it first. By surrendering to taking it easy I’ve found time to do little bits of writing/work. I’ve actually kept on top of the house work even better than usual. By not pushing my productivity I’ve stayed relaxed and been able to do a little bit here and there more regularly. By only doing things that I feel like doing I’ve actually got just as much done as when I decide I will do this, this and this today. But I feel much more rested and happy.

By making my activity fit my energy rather that expecting my energy to keep up with my chosen activity, I’ve used my energy far more efficiently. I’ve enjoyed resting more too because I haven’t pushed myself into a state where I have no choice but to rest. My mood has generally been a lot better too, I’ve felt lighter and I’ve been more aware of the little moments of joy that surround me. Even better is the fact that my energy has gradually returned and after just 10 days of being committed to taking it easy I’m already getting close to my pre-crash baseline. This time though I’m not going to celebrate my renewed energy with plans for doing more, I’m going to carry on enjoying life by surrendering to taking it easy. I know that I can trust my activity to spontaneously fit how I’m feeling as long as I don’t let go of my commitment to putting taking it easy first.

What does surrendering to taking it easy do for you?

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The importance of surrendering to taking it easy when you have a chronic illness like ME/CFS

3 thoughts on “ME/CFS and Surrendering to Taking It Easy”

  1. Hi Julie, i love what you say in this article. I have just exerted my self again with training too hard and now on my way to pre-crash state (i hope ;)). Feels like i’ll never learn to listen to my body but also that “trial and error” is a way to measure how much i can expend my capability.


    • Hi Nicola, Thanks for commenting. I try to stick to a 3 day 10% rule when I’m trying to increase my functioning. I only ever increase after at least 3 days of feeling good at the level of functioning I’m at, and then only increasing by 10% and sticking with that until it feels good and easy for at least 3 days. It’s also really important to be careful about the bad days and treat them as extra rest day’s rather than part of a normal routine. It’s frustrating to go so slow, but it minimises the risks of trial and error! And without crashing you tend to get further in the long run! Good luck with surrendering to taking it easy! Julie x


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