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A couple of weeks ago I was doing really well. I’d settled into a great routine in my new home including walking the dogs daily, which seemed to be doing me the world of good. Then I had a really busy week which threw my routines out. At first, I seemed to be coping so well without them that I slipped in to believing that with just a little extra attention to rest, I could be ‘normal’.

I had some training for some remote work that could take the stress away from me trying to support myself with my business. It’s something I can easily do from home in my own time, so it’s absolutely ideal and I saw it as a way to free myself up to enjoy my mission without the pressure of having to make it cover all the bills. But first I needed to get through 2 short days of training (9.30am – 2pm). I was able to get lifts to the venue and there were only 12 of us so it wasn’t too noisy or overwhelming, so all good. But then I had to fit the minimum possible of my business work into my day too. I’d also not quite managed to get all the vegetable seedlings that I’d brought, planted and I felt a pressure to get them in before they died. I paced well, having lots of rests and doing things in small chunks, but I completely overestimated the total amount I could do in a day.  The two days after the training I kept my business work to a minimum and had lots of extra rests, but I was still getting the veg plot set up. It seemed to be working though, I seemed to be keeping just on top of my energy management.

The straw that broke the camel’s back came from a desire for normalcy. I was still in a handover period with my friends who own the cottage I’ll be looking after for the next few months while they’re traveling. It was Friday night and they were going to the local bar, a perfectly normal thing to do on a Friday night. Although I knew I couldn’t keep up with them, I couldn’t resist the temptation to go for just one. If they hadn’t been going, it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to add something like that to a busy week, but I’d been coping, I’d been getting by, my life had felt pretty normal! I went, I had one drink and I enjoyed a peaceful and quiet walk back with the dogs.

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling like I’d been run over by a bus! Yup I crashed! Really not surprising, but so disappointing after having experienced that enticing sense of normalcy. To be honest, along with the usual low mood that accompanies a crash came a fresh wave of grief for the fact that actually I’m still not really well. My high functioning well-being is dependent on a strict routine of healthy living practices and careful pacing. I haven’t reached a stage of being relatively normal and just needing a little extra rest. I’m an expert at outsmarting this illness, at having a great life despite it, but the illness is still there and if I take my eye off the ball it lets me know!

I’ve acknowledged and accepted that grief, offering myself compassion to allow it to flow and I’ve moved swiftly back to that place of acceptance for what my life is. I went into recuperation mode on Saturday and after 3 days of doing very little, apart from making myself as comfortable as possible while I wait for the worst to pass, I started coming out of my crash (fortunately my friend was able to walk the dogs while I rested).

This temptation to be normal, and to believe you don’t have to be so careful, can be a very regular visitor when you’re doing well. Mostly I recognise it and manage not to give in to it. This time I didn’t, but at least I now have fresh evidence for how much my routines support me and I’m freshly motivated to get back to my highly structured life. OK, so it’s not a normal life, but I know how to make it a life that I love!

A small favour: I’d be very grateful if you could rate this post using the stars below the related posts.  Thank you

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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This winter seemed to bring me one knock back after another. With each knock back my motivation for self-care took a nosedive. This is something that I’m used to, and usually I just accept it, trusting it to bounce back as my health improves again. This time though, it didn’t. I found myself in a rut for months, and I started to get worried. Along with the worrying came whole load of self-criticism which just dragged me down lower and took me even further away from the motivation I needed to take great care of myself and out-smart the illness.

I’m happy to say that I’m now back on track. I’ve now got all my foundation self-help back into my routine and I’m reaping the benefits. There’s still a few things I could add and tweak, it’s still a work in progress but I’m happy with where I am right now, it’s enough!

Here are some of the steps I took to get myself back on track:

  1. Self-acceptance

The first thing I had to work on was my self-criticism, as it was really dragging me down. Self-acceptance is something that I learned was extremely important about 30 years ago (long before I experienced this illness) when I struggled with and overcame a heavy depression. It’s something I’ve become well practiced at over the years but all of a sudden, I found myself struggling with it again. Fortunately, I knew to ‘let somebody see me’. When you are really struggling to accept yourself, taking a risk to show yourself fully to another who can hold that acceptance for you, is a great first step to finding it for yourself again. For me it was all I needed to get mine back (although I did need it repeatedly for a week or two before my self-acceptance became more steady and easy to find).

  1. Paying attention to the tiny ways I was achieving (and letting go of the ways I wasn’t)

Once I was letting go of the majority of my self-criticism, my next step was paying attention to all the little things that I was achieving. I pointed out to myself how I was still preparing myself at least one healthy meal a day. I still made my bed every morning. I counted my 5-minute meander to the village supermarket as getting out of the house for a short walk. I praised myself for getting the washing up done every day, getting my laundry done once a week and every time I had a shower. When I started focusing on what I was achieving instead of what I wasn’t, I noticed that actually I was doing quite a lot. It was only when I was comparing it with what I do when I’m doing very well that it seemed to be nothing. So, every time I had a thought about what I wasn’t doing, I chose to be kind to myself, let it go and chose to recognise something small that I had already achieved that day, even if it was only that I’d made my bed.

  1. Letting go of meaning

One thing that I had to be careful of was making what was happening mean something. OK, this was the longest that I’d gone for years, without my motivation naturally resurfacing, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t going to or that I was going to have to force it. Just because it hadn’t already come back didn’t mean that I couldn’t trust that it would. I also had to let go of my thoughts that told me that if I carried on not doing my T’ai chi and meditation I was going to get worse. I knew that these thoughts weren’t helpful and that what I really needed to do was accept exactly where I was and be at peace with it.  And as soon as I found that peace, I found myself spontaneously wanting to do things again.

  1. Allowing more flexibility

Knowing myself well, I know that the key to good self-care for me it getting straight out of bed in the morning and getting straight into my practices. Unfortunately though, I’d turning this into a limiting belief: that if I didn’t do my practices straight away, early in the morning then I wouldn’t do them at all. Throughout this time, I was having a real problem getting out of bed in the morning. I saw that as the key to changing things around but one I just couldn’t seem to unlock. Instead I decided to see if I could be more flexible with my practices; do my t’ai chi whatever time I got up, and find another time in the day to do a short meditation if a late get-up meant I was too impatient to get to breakfast to do it.

  1. Find compassion for ‘self-help fatigue’

One of the things that really helped me to turn things around was when I offered myself compassion for just how hard it is to keep on doing the 101 things I do to help myself be as well as possible, especially when something outside of your control gets in the way of results. I’ve been at it for 11 years now (this time) and although I have lots of good periods where my self-help really pays-off, it’s totally understandable to be totally fed-up of doing all that work after several months of rarely peeking out of a ditch. When I gave myself permission to really let go, and not have to do anything that I didn’t feel like doing; when I allowed myself to stay in bed until I felt like getting up every morning, without criticising myself or worrying about my lack of interest in life, I started to feel lighter and life started to get easier again.

  1. Focusing on just one step

Once I noticed that I was no longer feeling completely reluctant, I chose 1 thing that I wanted to get more consistent at. My tai chi has always been the thing that I’ve been most consistent with, so I figured that would be the easiest thing to get back on track. Within a week I was doing that daily again so I chose something else to focus on.

  1. A fresh start

Once I’d found a little success with taking one step and a time and felt good that I had a few of my really important aspects of my self-help going again, even if a little haphazardly, I decided to tackle the key again. I chose a date for a fresh start. I had an ideal opportunity for that as I was moving house, so I decided that the first morning I woke up in my new home I would get straight out of bed…. And I’m happy to say it worked!

A small favour: I’d be very grateful if you could rate this post using the stars below the related posts.  Thank you

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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The power is within you!
Are you ready to access it?

I know that when you have an energy limiting chronic illness, it can be hard to find and hard to use that power! But I’ve discovered just how easy it can be if you have the right tools, and I want to share those tools with you.  This program is for you if any of the following rings true:

  • You want to take steps to improve your well-being but have always found it a struggle
  • You’re doing what you think you can but don’t seem to be making much progress
  • You’ve got stuck in a rut with your self-care and aren’t really moving it forward
  • You don’t have a great deal of confidence in your own power to make change
  • You know how much of a difference the right kind of support can make to your progress
Sign up HERE and let me guide you to take easy steps to awaken your inner power to heal yourself and create a life that you love.

At the end of the 4 weeks:

  • You’ll have clarity on the wisest steps to be taking toward improving health and well-being
  • You’ll have found a motivation that will attract your momentum without putting you under pressure
  • You’ll be taking the first small steps consistently
  • You’ll feel connected to your self-healing inner power!
Supercharge your power to heal is a 4 week group coaching program that will set you on a path of momentum that you’ll want to keep walking!

What it will take:

  • About 10-20 minutes journaling 5 days a week
  • A few minutes a day weekdays to watch the videos explaining the journaling task
  • Time to watch or attend live the 2 Facebook live Q&A sessions a week
  • Time to attend a 1 hr hour online group coaching meeting a week and a willingness to be coached
All for only €97! (about $109)

Here’s an excerpt of what Donna from the wonderful blog ‘Fed up with Fatigue’ wrote about it in a recent review of the program:

”By the end of the course, I had a blueprint of small steps I could take to improve my life with chronic illness. This was extremely valuable because the course forced me to shorten my ever-growing “to-try” list of tools and treatments and prioritize those that were most important.”

Read the full reviewHERE.

This program does involve a little energy and commitment, but if the time is right and your heart says yes, seize this rare opportunity and sign up NOW.

I’ll even offer a money back guarantee if you fully engage and you don’t find your power!
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Monday 3rd June, 10am Pacific; 1pm Eastern; 6pm UK 7pm CEST

Another chance to attend this popular free workshop to learn how to skillfully deal with the ups and downs of fatigue that accompany chronic illness.

This workshop is for you if:

  • you struggle to deal with the changing energy levels involved in chronic illness
  • you find you get carried away and do too much when your energy levels are good then suffer misery and low mood as your energy levels plummet again
  • you find it difficult to plan because you never know whether you’ll have the energy to do things or not

Register now: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/0f8e05694b0c8c0e7510d14dfea9e911

Previous attendees said:

‘Balance: This class left me feeling more optimistic that I can create a balanced and fulfilling life even through the ups and downs of chronic illness, and I gained a better understanding of how balancing my life in a sustainable way could lead to fewer energy dips’ Hollin

‘so empowering: this is paramount experience. it is so empowering. this workshop is the essence of what is so specific about Julie’s work. really great stuff !! !! !!’ Celine

‘Worth attending: Very clear and helpful tips and advice. Clearly presented and great interaction with the other attendees.’ Caroline

‘Excellent as usual: Another excellent class on dealing with coping with the ups and downs of fatigue. Julie is a fun teacher and very down to earth. She seems to cover all bases and is always able to answer any questions put to her by the participants. Great stuff.’ Jane

ups and downs: The class has helped me especially with understanding and coping with the ups of my condition’ Aditi

‘Coping with the Ups and Downs of Fatigue: Julie Holiday provides numerous insight full tips on how to cope with both the mental and physical challenges of fatigue.’ Karrin

Check out reviews for many of my classes and workshops HERE!

Or find the most recent ones on my testimonials page

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This post is for those of us with chronic illness who can manage a little productivity in our day and perhaps even work part time, but are battling against limited mental energy and the need to make sure we don’t use too much of it.

For me not overdoing it physically or mentally is an absolute priority because I know from experience, that it’s the only chance I have for improving my well-being. However, when improvements are never that quick it can be tempting to try to wring out every drop of energy you have each day, to get as much out of life as possible. The pressure to do so can be even stronger when you’re trying to contribute to your household or even support yourself financially.  It can be a real challenge to balance health with productivity.

There is no way I could work and remain relatively well, if I couldn’t manage what I’m doing on a moment to moment basis, listening carefully to my body’s needs. Fortunately working from home (in my own business) gives me that flexibility.

I’ve found that there are two keys to being as effective as possible on an average day without risking your well-being when you have a chronic illness: pacing and energy matching. Both make sure you’re using your energy as efficiently as possible so that you don’t end up using more than you need to, for each thing you do.

Pacing productivity

Breaking activity into short bursts is absolutely key to keeping productivity high even when it seems to interrupt a sense of flow. I use a timer to limit my work sessions to 40 minutes and make sure I have a 20-minute break in between. It can seem frustrating to interrupt myself when I’m on a roll, but I’ve discovered that if I continue, I can frequently get to a point where my concentration is fading and I’m having to use far more energy for far less output. In addition, the more tired I get, the less likely I am to notice that I need to stop and take a rest and the more likely my old unhelpful autopilot of ‘push to finish’ will click in. Pushing always threatens my well-being, resulting in me having less energy for days to come.

Stopping and resting earlier, keeps productivity high and means more gets done with less energy in a shorter time. That means more time and energy for investing in well-being! Even when I have to interrupt something that may benefit from continuity like writing a blog post, I find that by taking better care of my mental energy with breaks and making sure I stop when I need to, I can usually slip back into the flow even if it’s a day or two later. (This post has been written in 4 sittings over 3 days plus a sitting to load it onto my website).

Good pacing can be really helpful when things are particularly challenging too. When you step away from a problem and let it go for a while, the solution will often present itself more easily when you start afresh. It can help to do something to ‘break frame’ at the beginning of each break too. I like to practice one of my Sevillana dances. Each one only takes about 90 seconds, and the focus on the steps, switches my mind off whatever I was working on, as well as the fun of dancing lightening my mood. There are many different ways to break frame, for example: put on some rousing or light hearted music for a moment, sing a song, pull some silly faces, or standing in an empowering stance (like the superhero pose), find something that works for you!

I often use my work breaks to do a little washing up or tidying. I’ve found that as long as overall energy isn’t extremely limited, changing the kind of activity you do for example from mental to gentle physical, can be as effective as a rest. After ‘braking frame’ moving around gently practising being mindful with a simple task can be quite relaxing and it’s amazing how you can keep on top of the household just by doing a couple of minutes here and there. I always try to include a few minutes of low stimulation quite time in my work breaks too.

Energy matching

One of the things that makes the biggest difference to my overall productivity, is not making myself do something when I just don’t have the right kind of energy to do it. For example, I have less than an hour a day’s worth of the kind of mental energy needed to find complex solutions to problems or to be particularly creative. If something difficult comes up in the afternoon, I know that if I try to deal with it then I’ll really struggle and will end up pushing myself, so I always give myself to permission to put it on hold until I’ll next be feeling creative and productive, which is usually after I’ve done my morning practises the following day.

I have created time slots in my work day for different kinds of activities, that fit with the kind of energy I tend to have. Creativity / problem solving needs to come first when I am most fresh and alert. By the end of the morning, I’m usually not up to doing anything that needs thinking about but I can follow a procedure like putting invoices on a spreadsheet.  Typing out my case notes involves a bit of memory but doesn’t involve problem solving or creativity so I usually do that mid-morning.

My lists are also very important. At the beginning of each week I write a list of what I’m hoping to achieve that week and then break it down into the smallest possible chunks of activity, sorting them into the type of energy required so that I can match them with my time slots. I may schedule some things on my calendar, like case notes for the mid-morning slot the day after a coaching session and maybe the most important tasks in the relevant slots for the first few days.  Then at the end of my work day I review/plan what task I will put into each energy matched time slot for the following day.

This schedule has to be flexible though. If I’m having a low energy/ high brain fog day, then I may not have any creativity / problem solving in me at all. So even though I have a rough plan for what I’m going to do when, I always check out whether I actually feel like doing the thing in that moment; whether I can do it without it feeling stressful and an effort. If it’s a no, I’ll check out the rest of my list to see if there’s anything else that I could do with ease.

Trust

Energy matching like this involves letting go of the idea that you’ve got to do all the important and urgent things on your list first. This involves a certain amount of trust that by taking this approach everything important will get done. I know that when I push, I always end up with far less energy overall. Having experimented with this trust I’ve been amazed by how much more productive I can be.  It’s amazing how much you really can get done in small chunks, when you respect your energy and don’t let yourself get pressured and fatigued.

NB. This post assumes that you’ve already found your baseline of sustainable activity with your illness. It my not ring true if you’ve been resisting the reality of your limits. It’s a sad fact that our sustainable baseline is often a lot lower than we want it to be, but when you can accept and respect it you have a far better chance of creating a routine for yourself that will also encourage healing.

A small favour: I’d be very grateful if you could rate this post using the stars below the related posts.  Thank you

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Starts Monday 27th June 2019

Are you motivated to do what it takes to be as happy and healthy as you could be?

Improving our health and creating a life that we love involves a willingness to show up consistently with our self-care and keep on taking the next tiny step forward

This FREE 5 day challenge is for you if:

  • You struggle to do what you know could help
  • You don’t quite believe in your power to make change
  • You just can’t seem to prioritise your self-care
  • Your belief and motivation could do with a boost

Ready to change all that?  Join me on Monday for just a few minutes a day to kick-start your self help routines and improve your well-being

Register now: http://eepurl.com/dCekmH

What previous participants said:

I joined this challenge because I was experiencing an m.e. set back and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to refocus on my health.

I’ve enjoyed this week. It didn’t take me where I expected. I expected to develop my motivation to be more functional. Instead I’ve found that I need to work on mental peace to heal, before I develop anything else.

I think what I gained was a fresh perspective on my approach to my self-care. I will try to be more chilled and take small moments to work on being more peaceful.   Laura

~

I decided to join this challenge knowing my belief in healing completely after 10 years is shaky and thinking that right now my acceptance of the way it is and finding peace in that is more important. I wanted to see if I had that right or needed to change tack and I know that Julie always provides great learning opportunities whatever the topic.

I expected to be told I should drop the peace in the moment and focus on a healed and ‘back to normal’ future. Instead I discovered great evidence that I can answer my own questions and trust the answers for my next steps. I got to spend time focused on myself and listening to my body and I discovered how to let go of striving and disbelief and peacefully and easily find my next step. Lorraine

~

I have gained some valuable insights from the 5 days and it has been an interesting and worthwhile exercise.  Angela

~

I chose to do Boost Your Belief, Maximise Your Motivation Course because I’m just not consistent with my self-care and get frustrated with myself for not seeing things through.

I was hoping to get more motivation and understanding why I don’t stick to doing things I know will help me feel better.

I now feel excited and motivated about moving forwards and I feel so much better truly knowing which direction I need to take. With this knowledge I am feeling so much more motivated to do the things that will help me to move forwards and heal.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Boost Your Belief, Maximise Your Motivation Course. Thank you, Julie, for yet another amazingly informative course where we find out more about ourselves and give us the knowledge to move towards healing ourselves. Julia

~

I joined the course on many levels. A friend suggested it and follows you hence the word of mouth referral gave me trust and confidence that this new approach may work.

Plus, I can be my own worst critic and with lots of other pressures my health has come at a cost…therefore needed to learn new techniques to keep motivated when having bad days and when dealing with my own frustrations at the health situation.

I expected techniques for self-care, new perspectives and motivation along with a gentle reminder to believe.

What have I got?? All of the above. New techniques to try, improving my self-acceptance which is ongoing plus gentle motivators, motivation and more trust that I will get well again. Thank you Julie xxx  Mel

~

I enrolled because it looked interesting but had no idea what to expect. I’ve been really surprised at what I’ve learned and feel I have some new tools to work with.

Thank you Julie. Sue

~

This process has been very helpful, bigger than the sum of the parts. Enjoyed seeing the comments of the others, it felt like a little safe group of honest souls who can be at peace together in this epic effort to get well. Excellent concept from our coach and her warmth shines through. Appreciated her honesty about her health and hopes. The demands and length of the videos was well organised as short bursts were very convenient and manageable. Am a bit sad it’s ending as it feels like we are just getting going. Will tell other pals to join in next time and I look forward to listening more and participating in the future. Rebecca

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Today, May 12th, is ME/CFS international awareness day. This illness is very misunderstood by the general population and even by a huge proportion of the medical profession and funding for biomedical research that could promote that understanding is horrifically scarce. Nevertheless, there are some tireless and compassionate researches out there who have seen the suffering caused by this illness and are bit by bit building a better understanding of the medical nature of this condition, some even experimenting with potential treatments. Many people will be using today as an opportunity to campaign for more funding in research. Although this is absolutely essential, I want to raise awareness in a different way.

My journey with this illness has been all about acceptance and adaptation, learning to have the best possible life despite the illness, making the proverbial lemonade out of life’s lemons. I’m so damn good at it that I’ve turned that into my profession, but when you look at the results, that I’m contentedly living a relaxed and idyllic life in a beautiful area of the world, it can be easy to ignore the size of the challenges I’ve overcome.

The skills I’ve learned and have to rely on daily, are not easy to learn, and without them life with ME/CFS can be horrific. So instead of campaigning to get more invested in somebody one day finding a cure, my approach has been always been to help people make their lives less horrific in the meantime. Your understanding and compassion could play a big part in supporting a person with ME/CFS to lead the happiest healthiest life that they can while they wait for that elusive cure. I know the difference that it makes because I’ve been lucky enough to have people that care about me do their best to find that understanding. I’ve also seen the pain and the extra struggles caused when loved ones just can’t get their heads around the illness and sufferers don’t get that much needed support.

So just what exactly is involved in being able to be as happy and healthy as possible when your life is indefinitely ripped away from you by the severe limitations of an illness that zaps your energy, causes you difficult to treat pain, makes it difficult to think and concentrate, brings you all kinds of digestive distress and unusual sensitivities, makes it difficult to sleep even when you’re exhausted and makes you oversensitive to any kind of stimulation? (And these are just a few of the symptoms!)

Put very simply it involves having the emotional strength to grieve all that you have lost, let it all go along with all worries about the future and live in the present moment focusing on all the tiniest moments of joy that can be found. Can you imagine having to give up life as you know it including all your goals and dreams and accepting a life that’s only a fraction of what you have right now?

It also involves finding the motivation to spend at least half your day investing in great illness management such as gentle effortless movement, lots of meditation, careful diet, careful pacing of any activities, lots of quiet and rest and actively paying attention to cultivating low energy happiness skills so that the heaviness of life with this illness doesn’t overwhelm you and drag you down. Think of the kind of discipline it takes to go exercise regularly and eat healthily then times it by 10!

It involves holding back on your good days, because when we feel a little better, we never have enough energy to do what we want to do to make up for how little we’ve been able to do up until now, but if we do too much we crash and can be worse for a lot longer.

It also involves developing a thick skin to those who are going to choose not to believe what you are going through and judge and push you in ways that are only going to damage your health further. It involves learning to say no and let go of the people who don’t want to listen to that no.  And don’t forget all this has to be done when you only have a tiny amount of energy, and have difficulties thinking and concentrating to boot.

I help people to do this because I don’t want them to suffer and I know that it can pay off. But it’s a big demand. It would be so much nicer if we could trust medicine to take our ills away, but so far we just can’t!

A small favour: I’d be very grateful if you could rate this post using the stars below the related posts. Thank you x

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

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This is a post I wrote especially for ProHealth’s Inspirational Corner  and first appeared there about 2 months ago.

There is nothing in our once healthy previous lives that can prepare us for what’s involved in getting good at pacing. At least in the way that the very limited energy of illnesses like ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia and Lyme disease demands. Pacing to someone healthy, might mean something like keeping their speed down on a long-distance run, or having a couple of breaks when pulling and all-night study session. It tends to be only for special occasions that demand a long haul of energy expenditure. When you have a chronic illness, pacing is about every day. Day in day out, we aim to be careful with energy so that we can minimise flares and do what we can to get the most out of a now, very restricted life. Unfortunately, taking good care of our energy means unlearning automatic patterns of behaviour that no longer work for us. These behaviours became our automatic program only because they were so successful when we had a healthy body, so unlearning the automatic is hard!

Overcoming the completion compulsion

One thing that will regularly trip us up, is the urge to finish something once we’ve started. It’s such a common obstacle to good pacing I’ve named it the completion compulsion. In a previous healthy life, seeing something through; pushing to get something finished, usually equated to success. Now though it means pushing our cells into a less efficient emergency energy production state than can result in pain and post exertional malaise.

Awareness

The first step to unlearning, is always awareness: we have to be able to notice that the urge to push to complete is happening. Only when we notice it, can we make a different choice.  If you’re not noticing it until after you’ve already pushed too far, there are a couple of strategies that can help.

  • When you start any task set a timer so that you can check in with how you’re feeling when it goes off, and ask yourself if you need to stop. Don’t forget to reset the timer if you decide to continue!
  • Journaling can be very helpful too. If you don’t notice something in the moment, but journal about how not noticing it did you damage, you’ll help prime yourself for noticing it next time.
  • Mindful practises are all about developing more awareness that will help overcome automatic pilot behaviour. I found that practising mindfulness during regular daily tasks like taking a shower or making a drink, helped me to become more aware at other times of the day too.

Choice

The next step is choosing a different action. Sometimes even with awareness we can think ‘I know I’m running out of energy but I really want to get this done’. When this happens it’s because our old programming is tempting us with an unconscious feeling that it will be better for us to continue; there’ll be some kind of reward. Our new knowledge that it most certainly isn’t better for us to use too much energy isn’t yet a strong enough neural pathway. Our subconscious doesn’t have as much evidence that it’s better for us to stop than we do for pushing through. In this case we have to let go of our subconscious feeling that it will be better to keep going and make a conscious choice to do something different.

However, we need to be careful not to put up a resistance. First of all, resistance wastes energy, but also when our subconscious is resisted it tends to fight harder to be heard. Whenever I’m trying to tackle an old impulse that is no longer serving me, I first offer it acceptance and thanks. I talk kindly to the impulse ‘Thank you for trying to help me be successful, but things are different now and it’s no longer the best thing for me to do. Now, I need to put taking care of my energy first to get the most out of life’.

Looking for evidence

Unfortunately, our subconscious has another trick up its sleeve that makes unlearning difficult.  It is biased to only look for evidence that supports what it already knows. In order to strengthen the new neural pathway that says stopping and resting is better that pushing to complete, we need to consciously pay attention to the evidence that it does, in fact, serve our well-being. Without actively paying attention to that evidence, our subconscious will ignore it. Journaling can play a really important part here. Every time you do manage to choose to stop and not complete, it’s really important that you show yourself that there was some kind of benefit from it. By looking back on the day and being able to make note of how your energy lasted longer because you did stop and rest, or that the task still got completed easily despite being done in several sittings, or even that despite it not getting completed, all is well, you’ll be helping to rewrite the new neural pathway by showing how it served you as a whole!

Making unlearning a positive

Another way to become more successful at unlearning, is to make sure it’s about moving towards something positive rather than moving away from something negative. Although avoiding pain can be a strong motivator, moving towards pleasure is an even more effective one. If you choose to ‘unlearn the completion compulsion’ because it will mean you’ll have more energy to do nicer things, rather than just to avoid the pain and disappointment of a flare, life will feel lighter. Your new neural pathways will be written faster because the result of better well-being will be clearer to your subconscious.

Unlearning the completion compulsion might be a bit of a challenge, but it makes pacing so much easier to practise effectively and allows you so much more control over how your energy is spent.

A small favour: I’d be very grateful if you could rate this post using the stars below the related posts.  Thank you x

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

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Self-acceptance is probably the single most powerful tool against depression. It was a precious gift that I learned from four years of deep depression in my early twenties and the counselling that got me out of it. When I started to accept myself for who I saw myself to be and started to forgive myself for what I perceived as my failings, the crushing darkness slowly started to lift.

Self-acceptance has been an invaluable tool since chronic illness hit too. It can be so tempting to blame ourselves for the things that may have contributed to triggering or exacerbating the illness. ‘If only I hadn’t pushed so hard’ ‘I should have looked after myself better’ ‘why didn’t I stop when I knew I was getting tired?’ etc. etc. When these thoughts come up, I know to forgive myself, to accept myself, to accept things how they are. I remind myself that I am unconditionally worthy and the feelings flow and pass.

Unfortunately though, knowing that self-acceptance helps isn’t always enough, sometimes it can be really hard to find.

Recently, after what seemed liked months of only just getting over one viral knock-back before getting another, I found my motivation had hit rock bottom. I was very accepting of low motivation during the viral crashes, as I know how much my brain chemistry is affected by those events. I would accept feeling low and just wait it out, aiming to make myself as comfortable as possible with pleasant distraction. However, when my motivation didn’t start to improve as my physical well-being started to improve, my self-criticism started to go unchecked.

I criticised myself for not wanting to get out of bed in the morning; I criticised myself for not being able to do even a fraction of all the things I usually do because I know how much they benefit my well-being. I’m the ME/CFS Self-Help Guru and I can’t even do my self-care basics? I’d found a little self-acceptance and self-compassion here and there, just enough to hold me afloat; keep me functioning, but the self-critical voice was gaining strength and momentum.

Then misfortune hit and I lost a regular income source that was keeping me financially afloat. All of a sudden, my self-criticism had another source to feed on. All these years I’ve put into trying to support myself financially by supporting others to live a life that they love and I’m still financially vulnerable. Now I could criticise myself for failing. Although I knew to keep challenging that language and point out how I hadn’t failed, the critical voice just chose not to listen, it stayed strong. Then I managed to combine the two criticisms. How could I possibly be a financially successful coach if I couldn’t even manage my basic self-care? I didn’t’ deserve to attract new clients. The stronger this self-criticism got, the more it sucked away my motivation. I fought, I tried to offer myself acceptance but I wasn’t really getting there.

Until I bared my soul to another and showed them my worst thoughts about myself.

It is so much easier to find self-acceptance when you allow someone to see you at your ugliest and they still accept you unconditionally. This is how I first learned self-acceptance nearly thirty years ago, from the unconditional acceptance of my counsellor. And this is how I’ve found it again, from the unconditional acceptance and support of two of my friends, who allowed me to breakdown and reveal my wretchedness.

With their acceptance, I’ve been able to accept my low motivation. I’ve been able to recognise it as temporary again, rather than the set-in stone fact of failure that my critical voice was insinuating. I’ve been able to find compassion for how difficult it is to stay motivated after one knock back after another, especially during winter when the simple pleasures of the outdoors are far less accessible. I’ve been able to recognise that it’s understandable to need to take time off. Even with something as important and self-care or when something is your life’s passion, you need to take a break from time to time. I’ve been able to accept that even a self-help guru is human, and if she wasn’t, what she had to share would be meaningless. We all have hard times; we all get down sometimes. The only reason that this time it got out of hard was that I didn’t accept myself. Self-acceptance was a tool that I temporarily forgot how to use.

Fortunately, I knew from experience that I had to be brave enough to show someone. However despicable I saw myself, I had to let another person see my darkness. I took the risk. I guess the risk wasn’t that great because I know from experience that there are people out there who will accept me, but it still felt like a risk.

The risk paid off: my self acceptance returned, my critical voice lost its power and my motivation is slowly picking back up.

I’m sharing this because I want you to know that there are people who will accept your darkness too, and when you take the risk to show yourself to them, it will pay off. When you feel yourself fully accepted by another it becomes so much easier to accept yourself. Self-acceptance is your power, it’s your lightsaber against those dark forces of depression!

A small favour: I’d be very grateful if you could rate this post using the stars below the related posts.  Thank you x

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

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Starts Thursday 4th April (8am pacific; 11am Eastern; 4pm UK; 5pm CEST)

In this 26 week group coaching program you’ll get all the support you need to take back control from energy limiting chronic illness for a more relaxed, balanced and fulfilling life.

This extremely effective program offers all the benefits of individual coaching at a fraction of the price. In fact, after running several groups now, I’m convinced that there is a special magic about the group process; I’ve found being with others on the same path boosts motivation, and there seems to be a knock on effect to the learning. What others put into developing their skills will benefit you too!

These are just a few of the benefits that previous participants of this program have reported:

Decreased anxiety, increasing calmness; more in control and less overwhelmed; more even energy; less brain fog; more confidence and self-compassion;  a more positive outlook; an increasing sense of happiness; better equipped to deal with daily challenges; sense of moving forward; more relaxed; cry less; happier; more contented; more appreciative; more acceptance; more peace,  joy and harmony.

I’d love to help you with all that and much more too! Check out my testimonials page to find out more!

Will you be able to manage it?

I now run this program at a slow and gentle pace to make it easy for anyone to take part. We meet for coaching once a week for 26 weeks. Every two weeks you’ll be sent out a 1 hr recorded module with a workbook to guide you through the steps with ease. All coaching sessions will be recorded in case you can’t make one live, and there will be additional options for support should you desire it.

The commitment should be manageable whatever you are dealing with. The focus of this program is taking small steps one at a time in a relaxed effortlessness manner. I understand how important it is to avoid any kind of pressure. You will be supported to learn how to take the pressure off yourself and still move forward! And don’t worry about those really low energy days, I know from personal experience that the best way to move forward with those is to kindly and compassionately let things go, making yourself as comfortable as possible while you wait for the worst to pass.

What’s it worth?

I’ll be running the program for a fraction of what it’s worth because I want to make coaching accessible to everybody. I understand that many people with a chronic illness are on a reduced income. This kind of coaching program would usually cost a minimum of €1000 but I’ll only be asking for €218 in total (about US$245 or £187 depending on exchange rates), and you don’t even have to invest it all at once! There will be an initial investment of €96.80 followed by 5 monthly payments of €24.20.  There will be no commitment to complete the payments, if you find the program really isn’t for you. But I am confident that you will be getting so much out of it you will want to renew each month!

Get to know me at my FREE workshops

Because I really do want to help as many people as possible I share my 8 steps and even go into detail on the strategies to achieve them, in two FREE workshops. I hope that everybody will be able to take what I share and make important improvements to their health and well-being, but I’m also confident that the support of the group coaching program will get you so much further. You can watch the recording of the first workshop HERE  and Register for second workshops HERE don’t worry if you miss it live, the recording will be posted to my Facebook page and Youtube channel for a few days afterwards.  They’ll also give a better idea about what it’s like to work with me in a group.

There will never be a better time to start to take back control over your health and happiness than right now! And it has never been easier to take it at your own pace than with the my new value packed format! So grab this chance and 

What’s involved?
  • Meet weekly for for group coaching for 26 weeks (Wednesdays)
  • 12 recorded modules with workbooks to work through at your own pace
  • Includes 3 weeks of daily guided meditations audios + extra guided relaxation and meditation techniques
  • Also includes ongoing support in a private Facebook community
  • Optional extras: monthly workshop and monthly Q&A session
  • Special bonus: 1 x 30 min individual coaching session per month for only €24.20, that’s less than a third of my normal price! (optional)
What previous participants want you to know if you’re thinking of enrolling:

If you’re considering this program, I’d say Just do it! In my experience this course is so superior to whatever the NHS currently has to offer.’ Angela

I thought the 8 steps group programme was excellent. It met all my expectations and more.”Julie

I have been on numerous courses supplied by the NHS and by ME and FMS specialist units, and have paid privately to see a counsellor, and read loads of books, but this course has been by far the most helpful of them all.’ Rhoda

‘If you are considering this program, I’d say ‘don’t hesitate as you won’t regret it’ Jane

‘I highly recommend this 8 step programme…IT has been the Best Single Step I have taken’ Treasa

This program will open new windows in your head, and will give you springs to be more loving to your body and to yourself. You won’t regret!’ Céline

Don’t even think about it another second, just sign up, you’ll get so much out of it!  Julie and the information she shares is wonderful!’ Sharon

‘If you’re thinking about it: Definitely do this programme – It has essential advice and guidance for a better way forward’ Caroline

‘I would recommend this program to anyone that is struggling with chronic illness, particularly someone who feels isolated and has not found support.  The course is organized well and the pace is flexible. For anyone looking for help, this is the outstanding program you need!’ Dorian

‘Julie is amazing and the program is very helpful. There is nothing else out there that I feel would help this much to improve your life while having CFS’ Al

You can check out my testimonials for further information. Rhoda (an ex GP) gave such extensive feedback that I shared it in this blog post.

With my support and with the support of the group, taking the 8 steps will be easy. You will soon be feeling more in control and enjoying a more relaxed, balanced and fulfilling life. Invest in yourself, you’re worth it!

Feeling inspired? don’t wait, 

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